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[Article] State may seek costs of road decay from EU

  • 28-01-2010 7:34pm
    Registered Users Posts: 2,091 ✭✭✭

    IRELAND MAY seek funds from the EU rural development fund to repair an estimated €1 billion worth of damage to rural roads from recent snow and floods.

    Many roads across the country are still closed or are badly damaged, causing considerable difficulty to rural dwellers and especially to farmers, who need access to their lands and animals, and hazards to motorists.

    As county councils are preparing a list of costs to repair the damage, the Department of Transport and the Association of County and City Councils met in Tullamore, Co Offaly, yesterday to assess the damage across the country.

    Michael Fitzgerald, chairman of the group, said that earlier estimates that the problems could be resolved by €150 million had now “gone out the window”.

    He said that having heard reports from councillors from across the State, he believed it would take €1 billion to put the damaged roads back into order.

    “We heard of major damage to roads up in the west and northwest and even in Offaly, which did not get the brunt of the snow and frost storms,” he said.

    “I am now more inclined to believe the figure put on the repair bill of €1 billion, which was put forward by Jim Power of Friends First earlier this week.”

    The Tipperary-based councillor said the association had agreed to ask the Government to seek funds from the EU’s rural development fund which provides funding for infrastructure in rural areas.

    The Irish Farmers Association, which has been seeking to have priority given to rural road repairs, has conducted its own survey and has expressed concern at the lack of urgency from councils to address the problem.

    €1 billion - I doubt they'll get even a fraction of that from either the government or the EU.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,091 ✭✭✭marmurr1916

    Looks like Dempsey is going to give the councils extra money this year:

    TRANSPORT Minister Noel Dempsey has asked all local authorities to seek funding "over and above" normal levels in an attempt to address the damage caused to Irish roads by the winter weather.

    Despite insisting just a fortnight ago that no extra resources would be made available, the minister appeared to backtrack on the claim.

    In a statement to the Irish Examiner, a Department of Transport spokesperson confirmed that due to the "November flooding and recent severe weather" councils have been asked to provide cost assessments "over and above their normal winter maintenance expenditure".

    The spokesperson continued that the correspondence must include the "principle components of the additional costs" and a precise value of the repairs needed for the worst- damaged roads.

    "This will enable the minister to assess the full impact of the severe weather when deciding on the 2010 regional and local road grant allocations in mid- February," she added.

    It is understood that a number of local authorities – including Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Limerick City Council and Fingal County Council – are due to conclude their allocation requests next week. Resources of at least €6 million have been suggested for Cork County Council.

    However, despite the mooted figure, Cork city manager Joe Gavin said there was no point in speculating, adding that if extra funding failed to be made available, local authorities will be forced to divert money from other areas.

    "We have to be prudent and provide funding for resources. We may be using some grants allocated for other purposes.

    "A report is being written internally, setting out our allocation request and the amount of damage from severe weather," he said.

    In the 2010 Budget, €1.637 billion was set aside for the improvement and maintenance of the roads service – €280.5m less than a year previously.

    During the same period the amount of money allocated for local and regional roads was also reduced by €35m, from €446m in 2009 to €411m, a move which was in line with the Bord Snip recommendations.

    In recent days it has been suggested that the final cost of the road damage caused by the near month-long freezing conditions could be as high as €1bn.

    However, despite the figure being supported by leading economist Jim Power, the Department of Transport has claimed the sum of money has "no basis in fact".

    "It is a figure off the top of someone’s head," the spokesperson insisted.

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