Friday 15 December 2017

New runway for capital and event centre for Cork on EU wish list

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker
European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The development of a second runway for Dublin Airport, a 6,000-seat event centre in Cork and improved rural broadband have been placed on a Government wish list as it prepares to tap into a multi-billion euro EU war chest.

The list of infrastructure projects was drawn up by the Department of Finance ahead of a decision by the EU authorities next month to activate a €315bn investment plan.

The fund, which is overseen by European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, proposes to provide loans which cover around 20pc of the cost of projects.

However, Fine Gael MEP for Dublin Brian Hayes last night warned the Government to finalise its proposals given the level of competition for funding among member states.

The former junior finance minister said emphasis should be placed on "big ticket projects" such as Metro North and the delivery of a significant number of social housing units in Dublin.

An element of the plan involves underwriting the riskier elements of the projects in a bid to attract investment from private companies.

The Irish Independent has obtained a copy of the Department of Finance wish list, which has yet to be given formal government approval.

Many of the projects are already at planning phase but may not feature in the Government's domestic construction plan, which is due to be unveiled next month.

The most ambitious projects that require funding include a new water supply in Dublin, which could potentially involve pumping water from Shannon through a new pipeline to a reservoir in the capital, according to department documents.

They also outline the desire to tap into the Juncker fund in order to develop a new Dublin sewerage plant.

There are proposals to obtain funding for significant upgrades at Dublin and Shannon airports.

In relation to Shannon, the department details plans to refurbish the terminal, overhaul the main runway and construct a number of new hangars.

In Dublin, funding for a new runway is being sought.

This project will be "dependant on growth in passenger numbers over the next two years".

The documents also include the Dart underground and Metro North, which require significant investment.

According to the department's wish list, the EU fund could be used to pursue funding for a 6,000-seat event centre in Cork, as well as investments in several ports.

Last night, Mr Hayes said it was important that the Government had a "coherent plan" as the EU scheme became active in September.

"The Government needs a coherent plan to tap into the potential of Juncker's plan.

"The focus should be on big-ticket items which could transform the economy.

"The Government should place emphasis on projects such as Metro North and the delivery of a significant number of social housing units, particularly for Dublin," the Fine Gael politician told the Irish Independent.

"A list of potential projects for the plan has been drawn up by various government departments, but has not got formal government approval.

"The Government needs to act quickly on this as time is of the essence and project approval will develop rapidly," he added.

Mr Hayes said he would be seeking a a meeting with the European Investment Bank (EIB) once the Government had set out its position.

"As the EIB will play a key role in selecting and approving projects, I intend to work with the EIB to promote Ireland's projects. Given the fact that Ireland has come through a bail-out programme and had about 20pc of GDP stripped from the economy, Ireland should be afforded a higher share of project financing."

Irish Independent

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