The three-year delay to the BusConnects project in Dublin has been “time well spent”, the Transport Minister has told Newstalk Breakfast.
Eamon Ryan was speaking after the Government published its revised National Development Plan – which includes €165bn in spending commitments between now and 2030.
Yesterday, opposition parties labelled the plan a “work of fiction” and Minister Ryan himself said he did not expect every road project in the plan to be delivered.
That led the Taoiseach Micheál Martin to insist the plan was more than just a Government wish list – noting that it has “very substantial funding” behind it.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Minister Ryan said he and the Taoiseach were both right.
“It isn’t a wish list – it is a €165bn budget,” he said.
“That is not insignificant for the country, for the future of the country, for jobs and meeting a whole range of objectives we have.
“So, it is very real, it is very extensive. At the same time, what I said is also true because there will be some projects for a variety of different reasons - be it in planning or be it a change in terms of doing it a different way - and you are better to be upfront and honest about that.”
The plan notes that BusConnects, which was due to be finished by 2027, will be “substantially built” by 2030.
Minister Ryan said the delay has been “time well spent, so far.”
“The Busconnects project we are seeing in Dublin is very different to the original draft design,” he said.
“Remember the public controversy? The original draft design was effectively, in my mind, bus highways in and out of the city where we would be turning suburbs in Dublin from community areas into corridors and that wasn’t right and appropriate.
“So, in that time, in the last three years, where we have been going through that public consultation process, I think there is actually a much better outcome.
“It will be restrictive of car traffic - it won’t be as easy to drive in and out - but that is the outcome of the public consultation when we listened to local representatives.”
The plan does not include any costing or timeline for the Dublin Metrolink – which has now been in planning for around 25 years.
Minister Ryan agreed that the delay has been outrageous and said that is one of the reasons the Government is aiming to overhaul Ireland’s planning laws.
“The 2001 planning Act was very important and very useful at the time but I think everyone involved - be it environmental campaigners, developers or local councillors - recognise that actually our planning legislation now is not fit for purpose,” he said.
“One of the things we are doing alongside this national development plan is a complete review of our planning legislation to make it easier for everyone involved to understand it and apply it.
“That, I hope, will help shorten some of those timelines that have been a real cause of delay and extra cost, but we are looking to address that.”
You can listen back here: