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Republic of Ireland commits to favouring public transport
« on: October 04, 2021, 01:02:42 AM »
After spending the past 30 years covering their share of the island with a world-class motorway network, the Republic of Ireland is now shifting priorities towards cleaner transport options. Specifically, they have a "two-to-one" rule in favour of public transport in this year's National Development Plan, as the Irish Times reports.

In all €35 billion has been earmarked for transport spending until 2030. All of the big roads projects contained in the Fine Gael government’s plan from 2018 have been retained – including the M20 motorway from Cork to Limerick; the Galway City outer ring road; the co-funded A5 to Derry; the upgrade of the N4 from Mullingar to Longford; and the N24 from Limerick to Waterford.

While their inclusion was being presented by sources in both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as a “win” for those parties, it was quietly acknowledged within Government circles that the programme for government commitment to a two-to-one ratio favouring public transport over roads, in addition to exacting climate-change obligations, would mean at least some of those projects would not be progressed.
The "co-funded A5 to Derry" refers to the N2 Dublin–Derry road, the northern half of which is signposted as A5 by the British government. As the Republic has an interest in the Dublin–Derry corridor, they are contributing funds to improvement of the route within Northern Ireland.

A significant part of the reason for the priority shift is that the Green Party is part of the coalition government for the second time in history.

A senior Minister from one of the bigger coalition parties agreed. “Every thing is being climate assessed. You must remember it is (Green Party leader) Eamon Ryan who is managing the Department of Transport and also the transport budget.”

Even among the road projects, it seems we can expect prioritisation based on climate impact.

All of the major projects will also be climate-proofed, with those deemed “climate-positive” and “neutral” getting preference over those classed as “climate-negative”.

This is very promising — Ireland is lagging significantly behind most of western Europe in terms of public transport, and it will be great to see some improvements there. I am also glad to see that road projects are being deprioritised rather than scrapped entirely, as some road projects (such as the Cork–Limerick road, whether that ends up being motorway or not) are sorely needed for economic development, but it would be nice to see them completed in an ecologically sustainable way.
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Re: Republic of Ireland commits to favouring public transport
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2021, 10:31:22 PM »
Eamon Ryan on the NDP:

"If I was to pick out one project or example of what is going to change things it is Metropolitan Rail for Cork. We have already committed to that in the Recovery and Resilience Fund - those Midleton and Mallow lines, new stations, housing beside the stations shows how we can tackle the housing crisis and climate crisis at the same time."

It's very good to see cities in the west getting the same attention that has been mainly centred on Dublin until now.
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Re: Republic of Ireland commits to favouring public transport
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2021, 07:55:17 PM »
An Bord Pleanála has approved the Galway Ring Road, despite the concerns about environmental impact and the fact that — without a comprehensive public transport plan for the region — it is unlikely to reduce congestion on its own, and may even worsen it.

Several decades in the making, An Bord Pleanála this week approved the planning application for the Galway City 18km ring road.

Both Galway councils praised the decision, and said it was “welcome news for the thousands of commuters who travel to Galway on a daily basis for employment, education, medical or other services and who find themselves at a standstill for long periods in traffic congestion”.

The Greens have reiterated their concerns about the project.

An Bord Pleanála, in its decision, said the proposed road development is “likely to result in a significant negative impact on carbon emissions and climate that will not be fully mitigated”.

Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly had long opposed the road. In October, after the Government published its NDP, she said that this new plan had created a “hefty new list of hoops to jump through”.

In light of the Government’s commitments to climate action, and An Bord Pleanála’s admission that the climate impacts of the road could not be fully mitigated, she described the decision to approve it as “baffling”.

She said building the road was storing up “all kinds of problems for the future” and that it wouldn’t alleviate the pressure on Galway city.

This seems to go against the spirit of the NDP, and I hope legal challenges are successfully mounted. Not necessarily to stop the project, but to make it conditional on providing adequate public transport infrastructure at the same time.
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