Donegal County Council hopes to be able to publish CPO documents and Environmental Impact reports relating to the Ten-T project by the end of this year.
So far, €12.3 million has been allocated to the project, with funding guaranteed up to the end of the planning process.
An update on the situation has been provided to members of Donegal County Council, at the request of Cllr Ciaran Brogan.
The TEN-T project encompasses the Twin Towns By-Pass, Letterkenny to Manorcunningham, and Manorcunningham to Lifford, linking with the A5 in Strabane.
Route Options were published in 2020, and preliminary designs, environmental assessments and CPO documentation were substantially completed last year.
Donegal County Council has been told that that project appraisal has been significantly challenging due to the volatile economic and inflationary pressures in recent years, as well as changing national policy and priorities in terms of Climate Action Plans and other areas.
The final draft Preliminary Business Case was issued to the Department of Transport in June of this year for assessment and external review, and then government will be asked to clear the publication of CPO documentation and environmental impact reports, hopefully by the end of this year.
The Phase Four statutory planning stage may require an Oral Hearing through An Bord Pleanála.
Reply in full –
Work on the TEN-T Priority Route Improvement Project Donegal (PRID) commenced in 2017. Initial work in accordance with National Project Management Guidelines was on project scoping and route options 0selection and all associated assessments and public consultations.
There are three major transport projects being developed together under the TEN-T PRIP Donegal Project. Section 1 N15/N13 Ballybofey
and Stranorlar, Section 2 N56/N13 Letterkenny to Manorcunningham and Section 3 N14 Manorcunningham to Lifford and Strabane A5 Link Since 2020 with the publication of the Route Options Assessment Report, the design team focused on the next steps in the project management process and the requirements of the Public Spending Code. This included developing the preliminary design,
environmental assessments and CPO documentation.
These elements were substantially completed in 2022 and are currently subject to regular review and update as changes to national policies and standards arise. New challenges which had to be addressed have included significant new Climate Action legislation and policies requiring new considerations and additional deliverables. The Covid-19 pandemic had some impact, but this was generally mitigated through proactive and flexible resource planning and management.
Throughout the course of the project, the TEN-T scheme has followed the required national procedures on project appraisal under the governments Public Spending Code and Common Appraisal Framework for Transport Projects and Programmes (2016). This appraisal process includes cost benefit analysis and cost estimation which are subject to regular review and update. Project appraisal has been significantly challenging due to the volatile economic and inflationary pressures in recent years, as well as changing national policy and investment priorities as set out in National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland (NIFTI) (Dec 2021) for example and evolving priorities and policies under Climate Action Plans, as well in other areas.
The primary project appraisal deliverable at this stage of the process is the final draft Preliminary Business Case (PBC) . This was issued to the Department of Transport (DoT) in June 2023. The PBC will now undergo internal DoT and external expert review before a decision is required from the Government to proceed to publication of the CPO and EIAR as the Sanctioning Authority for the project. We hope for a decision by the Sanctioning Authority by the end of 2023.
The primary expenditure on this project to date has been in relation to Consultant fees, ground investigation and survey contracts, as well as significant and ongoing environmental survey and assessment. This expenditure is on par with what would be expected from such a major project and the required lengthy and constantly evolving project appraisal and design processes and procedures. Total allocated to the project to date is €12.3M.
The TEN-T PRIP Donegal is fully funded jointly through the exchequer (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) and the European Union’s
Connecting Europe Facility funding. Funding is confirmed going forward up to and including the next stage of the project, Phase 4 Statutory Processes. This is the critical public planning process for the project which includes publication of CPO and EIAR and possible Oral Hearing through An Bord Pleanála.