23 November 2006

West Council calls on Ministers to act


The Council for the West has written to all Government Ministers expressing alarm that plans for motorways and dual carriageways by 2010 completely exclude the West and North West.  


In a personal letter to each Minister, Council for the West Chairman Sean Hannick points out that there is no mention of the N5/N26, N4, N2/N14 and N3 in the plans.


"It is incredibly disappointing that every road north of a line between Dublin and Galway has been ignored for motorway/dual carriageway status," said Mr Hannick.


He went on to tell the Ministers:  "The worst main access road in the country is the N5/N26.  Three projects i.e. N26 Phase 2, Ballaghaderreen bypass and Castlebar to Westport are ready to go, but are awaiting funding allocation from Government.


"Sadly, the funds are not forthcoming even though at the end of 2005 there was a 3.75 billion euro underspend under the NDP for the BMW Region.  500 million euro of this rests in unspent roads allocation for the region.


"The Council for the West has long campaigned for balanced regional development. Government has the same aim as stated policy. When is it going to start? The NDP finishes in 6 weeks, and it has been argued that the spend can be done over the next two years. However, I want to place it on the record that this only applies to EU co-funded projects, which make up only approximately 20% of the projects.


Mr Hannick pointed out that road access had a serious impact on job creation/job retention. "In regular meetings with the IDA we are advised that lack of infrastructure in the BMW region is responsible for the shortfall in meeting the commitment to jobs in the BMW area.  We are now worried that in the absence of improved road access the threat to the competitiveness of existing companies here is very real. Such representations have been made to the Council for the West."


He added: This is really a last ditch appeal to do something to address this grave injustice to the BMW Region in the few weeks that are left to make up for the deficit in the spend under the current NDP.  These projects should at least be given the funding commitment to allow them to get underway.


"I appeal to you to do so - even at this late juncture, and with the reminder that our Council has repeatedly made such representations to your Government on these utterly crucial issues."