Irish infrastructure and the impact of Brexit

Irish infrastructure and the impact of Brexit

Highlights

  • Ireland focuses on infrastructure to sustain economic growth
  • 2.6bn in unallocated money will be given to projects designed to improve competitiveness
  • There are many projects to come, including the Luas Cross City rail, the N25 New Ross Bypass, the M11 and the Alexandra Basin

In focus – Brexit: When UK electorates voted to leave the EU it sent shockwaves around Europe; closely felt in Dublin, we look at the health of Irish infrastructure.

The process of Britain’s leaving the EU – Article 50 was triggered on 29 March 2017, setting the deadline for the UK leaving two years hence – leaves European markets in a state of flux.

Still emerging from a market downturn, and in close proximity, Ireland could be one of the countries most affected. The Irish economy grew by an impressive 7.8% in 2015, a higher rate than both China and India. To sustain such growth, investment in infrastructure throughout the process is vital.

Boosting competitiveness

Earlier this year, the minister for public expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, and minister for finance, Michael Noonan, announced that investment in transport projects such as ports, airports and roads would be increased. A revision of the government’s capital investment programme up to 2021 will see €2.6bn in unallocated money given to projects designed to improve Ireland’s economic competitiveness.

Noonan is also discussing with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to secure additional funding. Expect further details of that to emerge over the coming months. Noonan has also said they would pay more attention to ports for specific investment projects.

“If we live by trade, we need to increase the capacity of ports, and if there are inhibitions on trading with the UK as a result of the Brexit negotiations, we’ll need to expand the ports,” he told the press.

In the pipeline

According to Construction Information Services (CIS Ireland), there are currently four major infrastructure projects under construction.

  1. Luas Cross City

First to come online is Luas Cross City (LCC), the next phase of Dublin’s integrated light-rail network. LCC will extend the existing Luas Green Line from St Stephen’s Green West to the Iarnród Éireann Broombridge Station in Cabra.

Construction commenced in June 2013 and is scheduled to be in operation by the end of 2017. There will be an additional 10 million passenger journeys per year on this newly extended Luas network. The cost of this project is €368m and it’s one of the largest capital investment projects being undertaken by the government at the moment.

  1. Alexandra Basin Redevelopment

Early next year will see the completion of the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment, which involves the construction of approximately 3km of quay walls, deepening of the harbour basin and channel to accommodate larger seagoing vessels, as well as works associated with the conservation of the port’s Victorian industrial heritage. The €227m five-year project will deepen and lengthen 3km of the port’s 7km of berths and provide an entrance channel.

  1. N25 New Ross Bypass PPP Scheme

Later next year should see the completion of the €220m N25 New Ross Bypass – a 14km dual-carriageway road including new sections of both the N25 and N30 National Primary Routes. The bypass commences at a roundabout junction with the existing N25 at Glenmore, County Kilkenny, before crossing over the River Barrow on a three-tower extrados bridge extending 900 metres from Pink Point in County Kilkenny to Stokestown in County Wexford, and continuing until it ties in with the N30 at Corcorans Cross.

  1. M11

Finally, in mid-2019 a new motorway will be completed. The M11 runs from the end of the Gorey Bypass at Clogh to the townland of Scurlockbush, south of Enniscorthy. The scheme also includes a bypass of the N30 to the west of Enniscorthy and a link road to the N80.

 

There are also several major projects in the pipeline that work should start on this year: the €80m Stillorgan Reservoir upgrade in South Dublin is a priority project for Irish Water. The €200m N5 Westport to Turlough Road comprises the construction of 22km of new road from the N59 on the western side of Westport to east of Castlebar. There’s also the €300m regional wastewater facility in North Dublin, and the €320m North Runway at Dublin Airport is expected to be completed by 2020.

Securing the future

According to Tom Moloney, managing director of construction projects firm CIS Ireland, concerns about Brexit’s local impact may prove overstated. “As for Brexit, it’s speculative what is going to happen. My own personal view is that I think it’s probably been overplayed, because it’s just hard to quantify. To me, the issues with infrastructure and the EU are more to do with allowing the government to accelerate spending. There is a frustration on behalf of the industry, on behalf of the private sector in accelerating the deficit in the whole infrastructure, coupled with the fact we probably have a requirement for about 80,000 people in the construction industry over the next five years to meet the current demand.”

Tom Parlon, director general of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), says a national infrastructure investment target should be put in place along with a delivery unit to address bottlenecks and blockages in the system. “The UK established, about two years ago, a National Infrastructure Commission to deliver critical strategic infrastructure to drive economic growth and balanced regional development. Projects like High Speed 2 [HS2], one of Europe’s biggest mega-projects, that will connect London to Manchester, is being delivered under its aegis.

“The message should be delivered clearly to our government and the commission that infrastructure enables economies to provide opportunities. Every billion [euros] invested in infrastructure yields around 12,000 construction jobs, and generates about a billion [euros]. That’s before the improved connectivity, quality of life and attractiveness to FDI [foreign direct investment] is calculated.”

 

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