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Matheson Welcomes Ministerial Decision to Bring Forward Mid-term Review

AUTHOR(S): Garret Farrelly, Rhona Henry
PRACTICE AREA GROUP: Construction and Engineering, Energy and Infrastructure, Project Finance and PPP / PFI
DATE: 12.10.2016

  • Capital investment in Ireland’s critical infrastructure is key against backdrop of Ireland’s strong fiscal position and in advance of the British Government triggering formal Brexit talks by March 2017, says Garret Farrelly, Head of Matheson’s Energy and Infrastructure Group.
  • Irish Government must seize the opportunity now to ensure that Ireland is the country of choice for businesses in Europe, says Farrelly.
  • Government must follow through on commitment to spend up to €47 billion on key infrastructure in its existing capital investment plan says partner Rhona Henry, Head of Matheson’s Construction and Engineering Group.
  • Key transport projects include Metro North, the DART underground, the LUAS cross city project as well as motorways connecting Cork and Limerick, Dublin and County Donegal and other parts of the Northwest.

Leading Irish law firm, Matheson has welcomed Minister Donohoe’s decision to bring forward the mid-term review of the Government’s Capital Plan to early 2017. The Capital Plan, published in 2015, set out a six-year framework for infrastructural investment in Ireland out to 2021.

Mr Garret Farrelly, Head of Matheson’s Energy and Infrastructure Group, said:
“We welcome the decision by Minister Donohoe to review the Capital Plan in early 2017.

“Given Ireland’s strong fiscal position and in advance of the British Government triggering formal Brexit talks by March 2017, it is vital for the Irish Government to seize the opportunity to ensure that Ireland is the country of choice for businesses in Europe. An early review of our capital plan in achieving this objective is timely.

“Investment in infrastructure is a key driver of growth and employment in our economy and Government must follow through on the commitment to spend up to €47 billion between 2016 and 2021 on key infrastructure, pursuant to its capital investment plan entitled ‘Building on Recovery’.

“If the IDA is to continue to attract international investment in Ireland, the Government must prioritise investment in the transport sector, including key transport projects such as Metro North, which will need to deliver a fast, reliable and competitive rail link between Dublin city centre and the airport; the DART underground; the LUAS Cross City project; as well as motorways connecting Cork and Limerick, Dublin and County Donegal and other parts of the Northwest.

“The Government must also ensure that broadband is rolled out as soon as possible to rural Ireland in line with its commitments under the National Broadband Project. We welcome the announcement that €15 million will be allocated to progressing the National Broadband Plan. Access to a reliable and economical water supply is another area that the Government should focus on when investment decisions for locating manufacturing businesses in Ireland are made.

“We believe that these measures will facilitate decreases in costs for businesses in Ireland and guarantee the supply of vital services to them. One way of delivering these measures is through the Government’s public-private partnership programme,” noted Rhona Henry, Head of Matheson’s Construction and Engineering Group. “At a policy level, mechanisms for raising money for funding utilities also need to be considered by the Government,” she said.

Commenting on the decision, Farrelly emphasised that “Social acceptability is one of the principal new barriers to both public and private infrastructure development. A rebalancing of the existing position is required urgently if critical public infrastructure is to be delivered on time at this extremely important juncture. The legitimate interests of communities need to be taken on board through consultation and community gain-sharing mechanisms. In return, regulatory and permit processes need to be refined and streamlined to ensure that infrastructure strategic to the national economic interest secures the necessary permits within an acceptable timeframe; and that public and private resources are not expended in avoidable or lengthy legal challenges.”

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