Following the announcement of the Governments Capital Plan today, I have had a number of constituents ask me what it is all about. A Governments Capital Plan is the programme for spending on significant infrastructural projects for the next six years including roads, rail, health facilities, schools and broadband.
The €27bn worth of projects confirmed today are the key infrastructural projects planned for the coming years. Projects are selected on the basis of assisting Government in our ongoing work to secure the recovery, to restore all the jobs lost in the recession by 2018 and to bring unemployment down to 6% by 2020.
In that regard confirmation of €110m to widen the M7 to three lanes from the M9 interchange to the ‘Big Ball’ at Naas, as well as a new interchange into Kerry Group at Millenium Park and the Sallins By Pass will give a real national economic boost, the M7 being the second busiest road in the Country. The local impact of widening the M7 will also be very significant, for Kildare South residents who travel to Dublin regularly and who have witnessed at first-hand the lengthening queues due to sheer traffic volumes as well as for the potential it generates for further job creation in this area.
The listing of the Southern Distributor Route (SDR) for Athy as part of the Capital Plan is important to reaffirm last year’s commitment of funding for this vital ring road for Athy. Unlike the M7 project, the Athy road does not yet have planning permission. Last year’s funding confirmation allowed Kildare County Council to take this project off the shelf and prepare a planning application for An Bord Pleanala. Clodagh Lyons has been appointed as the Council’s project engineer with ROD/AECOM appointed as consultant engineers. They have updated previous traffic surveys, and are now preparing a new traffic model and updated environmental impact statement with a focus on getting a planning application published and lodged as soon as possible.
Last year’s commitment by the then Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin was to fund the entire Athy project through to completion. It’s inclusion in the list today ensures that commitment is now further confirmed.
Funds have also being committed to open the Phoenix Park Tunnel in 2016 to bring some scheduled passenger services on the Kildare Line to Connolly Station which will allow Kildare Commuters quicker access to that side of the City.
The €275m provided for Broadband today will be the initial stimulus for the early years of the state intervention under the National Broadband Plan. This is ring fenced funding specifically designed for getting 30mg fibre broadband to every house, school and business in the country.
This is a new departure in a capital plan that normally focuses on physical infrastructure but acknowledges how important investment in Broadband now is. This funding will have a direct benefit on the many parts of South Kildare who do not have adequate Broadband at present. We can’t leave the provision of Broadband to the private sector to provide in its own time as was done in the past, as this approach has left those living outside of the large urban conurbations the poor relation in terms of adequate broadband speeds.
The Department of Defence capital spending plan includes provision for the development of an international facility at the UN training school in the Curragh – to facilitate training in peace support and in conflict resolution which is major boost for the Curragh and its already high class reputation in this area.
A government can’t stop making decisions because it is coming near the end of its term. The previous Capital Plan is about to expire and a new one is required. While many projects were included, others were excluded. We are fortunate in Kildare that we stand to gain from many of the projects included today.