Submission to Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the National Development Plan Review to Renew
The public consultation sought input on the overall level of public spending on capital investment, what types of capital investment should be prioritized? how can governance of public investment be improved? and feedback on communications.
Key issues highlighted in An Fóram’s submission includes:
(a) the need for more detailed information to support the consultation process thus enabling greater public engagement through the dissipation of power and knowledge imbalances.
(b) Fundamental changes are needed in infrastructure planning processes and integrating policy. Water is critical to the national planning process in terms of delivering secure and good quality drinking water supplies and suitable urban and rural wastewater treatment infrastructure. All of which must adhere to EU legislation and must protect the quality of Ireland’s water resources. A core component of the Framework for Integrated Land and Landscape Management is that a spatial planning system is needed that considers all environmental components in a holistic and cohesive manner. Reduced compartmentalisation of planning is needed as cross-component planning can deliver cost-efficiency and environmental benefits.
(c) Over the period 2005-2019, water services represented 6% of the total capital expenditure. This compares to 20% for roads, 15% for housing, 10% for schools and PPP and 8% for public transport. This represents a severe deficit in investment in water infrastructure and the NDP needs urgent targeted investment to deliver water and wastewater services, particularly to the Greater Dublin Region, which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
The delivery of a safe and secure drinking water supply and management of wastewater in line with EU Directives and legislation is critical for public and environmental health in the Republic of Ireland. Underinvestment in water and wastewater services over many years has resulted in increased risk to public health and a deteriorating aquatic environment. Urgent investment in water and wastewater services must be a priority for national development.