*To ask the Minister for Transport the reasons the Government made no submission to the September 2005 staff working paper (details supplied); the reasons the National Development Plan published on 23 January 2007 does not make any reference to ongoing and deepening EU level developments in the field of improving access to European airports, as set out in the September 2005 staff working paper and the communication of 24 January 2007; and the reasons his answer of 31 January 2007 makes no reference to the Commission's communication of 24 January 2007 in which the Commission clearly signals its intention to provide funding for the development of rail links to railway stations at airports.
- Róisín Shortall.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 6th March, 2007.
to question 2915/07; in relation to the European Commission publication, Airport capacity, efficiency and safety, (September 2005) and a European Communication (24th January, 2007) An action plan for airport capacity, efficiency and safety in Europe, in which it stated (p.9) that "Funding from the TEN-T and from the European Regional Development and Cohesion Funds for co-modality projects is still available for the period 2007-2013. The Commission also invites Member States to support the development of intermodal inter-changes at airports (rail links to and railway stations at airports), which promote efficiency of both rail and air transport"
Ref No: 8273/07
Answered by the Minister for Transport
The Metro North project is not a dedicated rail link to Dublin Airport in the way that the non-stop Heathrow Express is between that airport and central London. Metro North will terminate at Lissenhall north of Swords and will, when completed, provide a rapid, high capacity, high frequency link in the commuter rail network linking the north Dublin suburbs with the city centre. Some 34 million passengers per year are expected to use Metro North which will serve several key interchanges and population centres along its route, one of which is Dublin Airport.
As the Deputy will be aware, European financial assistance will, in future years, be targeted mainly towards the new, less-developed Member States and on measures designed to further enhance and deepen the integration of the European Union.
The Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T) is one of the instruments in the latter category. In 2004, the EU Commission proposed a new TEN-T Programme which, in view of the expected doubling of traffic between Member States by 2020, is estimated to cost around €600 billion. Given the scale of this investment, the Commission proposed that projects be prioritised for EU assistance under the Programme as not all Member State projects could be accommodated. Accordingly, a series of 30 transnational axes were identified which were deemed to have European "added value" and which would contribute to the sustainable development of transport and the integration of the new Member States. Of the 30 priority axes and projects across 25 Member States (now 27), Ireland succeeded in including two strategic projects, namely the Cork-Dublin-Belfast-Stranraer Railway axis and the Ireland/UK/continental Europe Railway/road axis. Ireland is also interesting in participating in Motorways of the Sea projects. The Commission's proposals were formalised in Decision No. 884/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council in April 2004. When the Commission was considering Ireland's outline TEN-T proposals, the projects deemed as having highest priority in terms of meeting their criteria were cross-border road and rail projects, as distinct from urban transport system.
In identifying priority projects, Member States were not precluded from pursuing projects of trans European significance either from their own resources or from other EU funding sources such as the Structural and Cohesion funds.
Cohesion funding is no longer available to Ireland and the amount of Structural Funds available for the period 2007-2013 is approximately €900 million. As I pointed out in my reply to Question No. 1272 on 31 January 2007, this much reduced level of funding compared to previous years and its profile over the seven-year period will be factors in determining the type of programmes and projects that will be selected for co-financing and it is not currently envisaged that major infrastructural projects such as Metro North will feature in these funding proposals. Niche programmes and targeted projects that will complement the new NDP and that have regard to the limited availability of EU Structural funding are likely to be the focus of co-financed infrastructural expenditure over the 2007-2013 period.