International contractors have been told Ireland will remove “unnecessary administrative barriers” to accelerate infrastructure projects.
Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe told hundreds of attendees at an online marketing pitch for infrastructure development that now was a good time to invest in the country, and sought to assure them steps were being taken to “sharpen the focus” on delivery.
“As you know, delivery of some projects has been adversely impacted over the last three years as a result of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine,” he said during a call for which almost 900 interested parties had registered on Friday.
They represented engineering, construction, consulting and contracting interests domestically and abroad, particularly in the UK, France, Spain and Germany. The call was the brainchild of the National Transport Authority (NTA) which is managing the current overhaul of transport networks.
“The Government is firmly committed to ensuring that the level of investment is maintained and, moreover, ensuring the continued and timely delivery of NDP [National Development Plan] projects,” Mr Donohoe said, setting out an eye-watering picture of State investment to the tune of €165 billion to 2030 under the revised NDP.
Current spending represents 5 per cent of national income, above the recent European average of 3 per cent.
Mr Donohoe sought to reassure potential partners, saying that in 2023 a series of reforms were being ushered in to “sharpen the focus” on delivery of NDP objectives.
“We are aiming to remove unnecessary administrative barriers to improve our own processes and to ensure that the departments responsible for the delivery of capital projects are provided with the resources that they need.”
As well as a comprehensive overview of transport development plans – BusConnects, Active Travel and major rail projects – the two-hour call featured pre-recorded sales pitches from Mr Donohoe and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.
Mr Ryan pressed home the imperative, setting out a need to cut Irish car use from 70 per cent of journeys to 50 per cent, and to reduce the 20 per cent of total greenhouse emissions contributed by transport.
“We need contractors who can work with us. We need engineers, real skills in financing and design and urban planning that need to be brought together so that this new transport system evolves,” he said.
Anne Graham, chief executive of the NTA who hosted the marketing event, said she hoped the overview had piqued the interest of those who tuned in. Interested parties were urged to make contact for one-to-one meetings.
“I think we have wanted to demonstrate that there is a significant pipeline of sustainable public transport work across many different types and sizes of projects and programmes,” she said.
“We also wanted to demonstrate that there is a wider programme of work even beyond sustainable transport through many different sectors.”
Digital attendees were shown the scale of opportunity – under the NDP there are 490 projects in the east and midlands; 379 in the south and southwest; and 276 in the west and northwest. About €35 billion alone will seep into transport provision.