Friday 18 October 2019

Ireland 2040: Everything we know so far about the National Planning Framework

Leinster House (Stock picture)
Leinster House (Stock picture)
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The Government is set to unveil a €115bn National Planning Framework outlining their vision for developing the country up to 2040.

A multi-billion euro package aimed at improving the health service will see three new hospitals as well as 2,600 extra hospital beds by 2027 and hundreds of community nursing home beds. It has been revealed that the Department of Health will get a substantial share of the €115bn give-away.

Sources say the plan will also place a massive emphasis on investment in IT, with the HSE and An Garda Síochána to be given modernised computer systems.

At least 23 counties are in line for new schools, although many were announced by the Department of Education as far back as 2014.

Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring is to have €1bn for rural improvement schemes over the next decade.

Other aspects of ‘Project Ireland 2040’ are expected to include:

  • Three hospitals for dealing with elective surgeries to cut waiting lists
  • 2,600 extra acute hospital beds by 2027 (four years ahead of Bed Capacity Review)
  • Hundreds of new community nursing home beds
  • Major primary care investment
  • New IT system for HSE
  • New agency to speed up home construction
  • Funding to replace Garda PULSE system
  • €1bn for Rural Regeneration Scheme
  • New control centre for Dublin Airport
  • New schools in at least 23 counties
  • Millions to upgrade ITs
  • Regeneration of Waterford Quays
  • Second runway for Dublin Airport
  • Metro North
  • DART expansion
  • M20 from Limerick to Cork
  • Children’s Hospital
  • Athlone and Sligo to get special status for growth

Former public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin told the plan is "wide open to legal challenges" and that the Government are trying to “side step” a Dáil vote on the plan and in turn EU regulations.

The claim is outright denied by the Department of Housing who authored the National Planning Framework (NPF).

Opposition parties had expected that the plan would be brought to the Dáil ahead of its formal launch which will take place in Sligo tomorrow.

The NPF outlines priority growth regions for the next two decades and will be launched in tandem with a National Development Plan that includes a €115bn spending spree on hospitals, schools, roads and other infrastructure.

Mr Howlin said the framework should be underpinned in law and be subject to EU Environmental Directives including the need to prepare first a Strategic Environmental Assessment.

“There isn’t the slightest doubt that this could be subject to protracted legal argument that could go all the way to the European Courts,” he said.

Mr Howlin said in his prediction there will “certainly be legal challenges against it” which would ultimately delay the roll-out of the individual schemes to be announced.

The Labour Party leader said he was not threatening his party taking legal action but also declined to rule it out.

Government sources said they have completed an Environment Impact Assessment which will be updated again in the coming weeks.

They described the claims as a “red herring”.

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