December 29, 2021
Government cycling and walking rhetoric must turn to delivery in 2022 – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke says 2022 must be a year of cycling and walking infrastructure delivery if the government is to achieve the transport transformation required to meet 2030 climate obligations.

The Meath East TD made the comments in response to Parliamentary Replies to him, which confirm that just 92 out of 250 dedicated active travel positions have been filled by local authorities, and just €328m has been spent on active travel infrastructure in 2020 and 2021 despite a Programme for Government commitment of €360m in annual spending.

Teachta O’Rourke said:

“We know that our climate obligations mean that we need to realise a significant shift away from the private car to public and active transport. 

“Transport sector emissions account for in excess of 20% of overall emissions and the recent carbon budget commits to reducing these by 42-50% by 2030.

“We know too that the recent annual report by the Climate Change Advisory Council pointed to a significant gap between government policy and rhetoric on the one hand, and action and delivery on the other. 

“In response to questions from me, Minister Hildegarde Naughton confirmed that €116m was spent on active travel infrastructure in 2020 (€108m plus €8.3m on greenways). In 2021, this figure increased to €212m (€185m plus €27m on greenways).

“It was further confirmed that just €290m in funding has been committed for 2022, and that only 92 of the 250 dedicated NTA Local Authority Active Travel positions have been filled. All of this is a far cry from the Programme for Government commitment of €360m in annual spending on active travel.

“What we have here is another case of front-loading talk and back-loading action. It raises deep concern about the prospect of realising the type of change required. 

“At the current rate, government will need to deliver in excess of €500m of active travel projects in Year 4 and 5 of their tenure, should we be unfortunate enough for this coalition to survive that long. That is not a realistic proposition. It is not going to happen. Missed targets now will mean missed targets in 2030.

“Instead, we need 2022 to be the year that cycling and walking rhetoric turns to delivery. For this to happen, local authorities need to be adequately resourced to prepare and deliver local active travel plans and formal lines of accountability must be established with county and city managers and the NTA as the lead agency.

“Government will have Sinn Féin’s support if it pursues these measures with intent and delivers on its commitments. In the meantime, they can expect us to continue to hold them to account.”

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