On 4 October 2021, the Irish Government published its revised National Development Plan 2021-2030 (the "NDP") which includes an infrastructure investment package of €165 billion over a 10 year period.

This revised NDP is the result of a review of the previous plan (published in 2018) which commenced in October 2020. The full text of the revised NDP is available on the Project Ireland 2040 webpage, together with an updated Investment Tracker and MyProjectIreland mapping tool which provide details on specific projects and may be helpful for private sector stakeholders who wish to identify potential opportunities in the Irish project pipeline.

To financially support the delivery of the NDP, the Irish Government also committed in its 2022 Budget (published on 12 October 2021) to an increase in capital investment for infrastructure of 13% (€1.3 billion) over the 2021 allocations, with a particular focus on housing (€3.4 billion), transport (€2.5 billion), health (€1 billion), education (€792 million) and climate action (€700 million). The 2022 Budget calls out specific projects (such as Metrolink) for funding in 2022.

This update contains a summary of key points from the NDP which may be of interest to you.

Public Private Partnerships and Energy Performance Contracts

  • Support for PPPs: Encouragingly, the NDP notes that the Public Private Partnership ("PPP") infrastructure delivery model is robust and has proven to be successful in Ireland, but that current policies can discourage uptake of further PPPs even if they represent value for money. Accordingly, the treatment of PPPs will be reviewed and a PPP Steering Group will present recommendations in Q2 2022.
  • Specific New Projects: Planned and on-going major PPP projects include social housing programmes to deliver approx. 1,500 homes nationally, the Higher Education PPP programme delivering eleven new buildings to support the role of Technical Universities and Institutes of Technology and new public services infrastructure such as the new Garda stations at Macroom and Clonmel and a Family Law Complex on Hammond Lane in Dublin.
  • Energy Performance Contracts: The NDP also considers Energy Performance Contracts as an additional useful contractual mechanism and financing opportunity to improve energy efficiency of the public building stock.

Transport Infrastructure

The overall level of investment in transport infrastructure has been significantly increased in the revised NDP to €35 billion in total, providing for strategic investments in public transport, active travel and national roads.

  • Public Transport: Major investment plans in public transport infrastructure include:
  • MetroLink: The NDP confirms the Irish Government's support for the MetroLink project, which consists of a 19km north-south, carbon-neutral railway service that will run between Swords and Dublin City Centre, serving 15 stations. A significant portion of the MetroLink project is expected to be procured as a PPP. A proposed contract package for MetroLink is due for publication in Q1 2022 and preparations for the planning permission (Railway Order) application are underway.
  • DART+: The DART+ programme is described as the single biggest investment ever in the Irish heavy rail network and comprises of the extension of the DART (suburban commuter) network from 50km to 150km (through electrification) and the purchase and deployment of up to 600 EMU / BEMU carriages (through a framework agreement recently awarded by Irish Rail).
  • Other Heavy Rail: Additional funding will be made available for the protection and renewal of the railway network, including expanding commuter rail services in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. Further projects include the coastal protection works between Dublin and Rosslare and the replacement of the Dublin-Belfast Enterprise fleet by 2027. A Strategic Rail Review is currently being undertaken by Arup with the final outcome due in 2022.
  • BusConnects: The NDP supports continued investment under the BusConnects project (new road infrastructure, up to 400 new low emission vehicles and a target of 500,000 additional active travel and public transport journeys).
  • National Roads: Several national roads projects are currently under construction, such as the implementation of variable speed limits on the M50. Three projects are due to start construction within the next six months including the N5 Ballaghaderreen to Scramoge road project, the N59 Moycullen bypass and the N69 Listowel bypass. Further proposed projects include the N/M20 Cork to Limerick for which PPP assessment is planned.
  • Active Travel: The Irish Government committed to an annual investment of €360 million until 2025 for improved walking and cycling infrastructure to encourage active travel methods.

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