Pressure on government to scrap road upgrades in favour of climate change measures

The Government is under mounting pressure to scrap planned road upgrades in the National Development Plan in favour of measures to tackle climate change.

A number of opposition parties are backing a motion calling on the Government to revise public spending commitments to prioritise cycling lanes as well as train and Luas extensions.

The Social Democrats private members’ motion also calls on the government to identify which projects planned under the National Development Plan will now be delayed or cancelled due to cost overruns with the National Broadband Plan and the National Children’s Hospital.

It follows calls from the Green Party to divert money which had been allocated to roads in the National Development Plan to funding a proper public transport system.

Social Democrat TD Róisín Shortall said: "We need to revisit the whole roads programme.

"We have been saying all along that the focus should very clearly be on public transport and we have highlighted the need for Dart underground, for example. Unfortunately, the Government rejected that.

There are a number of other projects that urgently need to be prioritised, both in relation to the environment and also in relation to better value for money.

"We are talking about the extension of the Luas to Bray and Finglas, Lucan and Poolbeg. That would be one project that we would like to see brought up the line now. We also want to see progress made in relation to cycling facilities," Ms Shortall said.

Party colleague, Catherine Murphy pointed to the fact that the Dáil has declared a climate and biodiversity emergency on foot of the recent Oireachtas report on Climate Change.

"The government urgently needs to translate this unanimous political resolve into concrete and meaningful actions to respond effectively and fairly to the accelerating impacts of global warming.

“It’s obvious that this will require a massive step change in how the country plans and spends on large scale infrastructure projects in the coming decades.

"The National Development Plan commits to €116 billion capital spending up to 2027," Ms Murphy said.

She added that congestion in cities such as Dublin and Cork is having an economic impact as it makes these cities unsustainable.

Green Party TD Catherine Martin accused the Government of misleading the public through "false words" on climate action.

"They are constantly creating obstacles to any meaningful legislation from any opposition party or TD," she said.

"There is a definite pattern emerging here over my three years in the Dáil (as to) where Government is putting all it's efforts.

"Despite all it's talk on the need for climate action, despite every Government TD running out into the streets to stand with students as they do their climate strike, the real story is they are putting all their efforts into blocking any legislation that has climate action at its core."

She said the thousands of young people who protested on climate action in recent months can "see through" Government promises which are not being acted upon.

Ms Martin added that the National Development Plan now needs to be "completely revisited".

She said the 60 roads and motorways that are included in the plan should be looked at again.

Meanwhile Extinction Rebellion activists protested outside the Dáil today over the government’s work on climate action.

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