Galway Projects in the National Development Plan
On Tuesday, I raised a number of Galway projects I would like to see prioritised in the National Development Plan especially in the context of the possible investment by Intel Corp.
I welcome the Minister and thank him for his work on the national development plan. It is important that we have a vision for Ireland in the years ahead and, more importantly, a commitment to capital infrastructure thereafter.
I will be parochial and say that the people of Galway wait with bated breath at the possibility that Intel will come to an area of State-owned lands near Oranmore in Galway, which is the result of the foresight and vision of Galway County Council and its councillors to designate an area from Athenry to Oranmore as an economic corridor. The land has been laid out with roads, car parks and adjoins or abuts the Galway to Dublin railway line. There is huge potential for IDA Ireland to deliver the project for Galway. Obviously the State will do all that it can to achieve that for Galway and Oranmore. The potential in terms of investment by previous Governments in the Galway to Dublin and Limerick to Tuam motorways is there and is evident. There is also great potential to extend the railway line from Athenry to Tuam and Mayo to bring people, should Intel decide to move to the location.
One area that is lacking is the wastewater infrastructure, which was part of previous plans. The Minister has said that this plan does not have an exhaustive list but the infrastructure was in previous plans in the form of the east Galway drainage scheme, which is east of the city. I am sure that the project will cross his desk because it would be a major piece of infrastructure. Galway has a young and growing population. Moreover, as it has the National University of Ireland, Galway, NUIG, and the new Atlantic technological university, the potential there for employees is also great.
I often hear that Galway has been left behind other places such as Cork and Limerick when it comes to roads infrastructure and the Jack Lynch tunnel and the Limerick tunnel, and that progress for Galway has been bogged down by planning delays. For example, previously the Galway city ring road and the Galway city outer bypass projects were with An Bord Pleanála for a long time and have been delayed. I am sure that both projects will cross the desk of the Minister, subject to planning approval.
The Minister said at the outset that he had money unspent, which is always very difficult for politicians to hear because we have a range of projects on which we would like to spend money. One of the projects that I have pushed, which is a general countrywide one, concerns community centres. There are communities in Moycullen, Newcastle and Galway city that have planning permission and projects ready to go but that do not have money because there is no dedicated fund. Unless a local authority has a sufficient rates base or whatever to develop projects, then there is no dedicated fund. The Minister did put in place a fund, through the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Humphreys, for upgrades of community centres but not for the establishment of new community centres. If the Minister wants to spend money then there is potential for a sports capital-type project of a rolling fund every 18 months of between €30 million and €40 million. I am sure that there will be plenty of places that have new and growing communities but no community infrastructure, which is where there is potential and I ask the Minister to look at that in future budgets. There is a lack of facilities and people say that there are houses but no amenities.