Infrastructure and local buy-in


Sir, – David McKenna writes, in relation to the Sandymount cycleway, that “there must be as much buy-in as possible from everyone it affects” to ensure democratic accountability (Letters, August 6th). Nobody disputes this.

However, such a view, when applied to infrastructure and local building projects in general, is idealistic and ignores the hidden cost of local want being able to outweigh public need.

Public buy-in can only go so far. Every reader can think of at least one person in the locality who vehemently opposes any change to the area in general. The problem is that the law as it stands allows these people a huge amount of individual leverage to prevent projects on ostensibly noble grounds that it rarely, if ever, affords to those in the locality in favour of infrastructure.

This is not a democratic situation. At some point the public need for infrastructure or housing projects to be undertaken must outweigh the local desire for them not to proceed. Of course, these projects must be within reason too.

Our infrastructure, however, is in need of upgrading across the board. Preventing it now only pushes up the cost later and in the interim we are still without the infrastructure we all agree is needed, during which time the current infrastructure becomes more and more obsolete and unfit for purpose. Defunct infrastructure harms the functioning of the state. That goes without mentioning the positive effects local infrastructure connections have on property prices.

Nobody wants cyclists on the same lane as cars. Everyone knows we need more renewable energy plants. The need for housing is felt acutely all across the country.

Yet as long as we keep indulging local and even non-local objectors none of these things will happen and we sell the future short.

Local buy-in is important, it must be sought and robustly so, but the joined-up thinking that is required to provide these projects properly simply cannot please everyone. We have to face up to that if we want a city, and a country, that functions better. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 20.