FINE Gael Cork East Deputy, Tom Barry, has said the M20 remains a priority for Government but careful consideration must be given to how best to progress the project in these straitened economic times.
Deputy Barry was speaking following a delegation meeting yesterday (Thursday) with Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar at the Department of Transport in Dublin. The County Manager, Martin Riordan, was present, as were county engineer, Noel O’Keeffe; County Mayor, Tim Lombard; Director of Services, Tom Stritch, and a large contingent of Cork TDs and Councillors.
“Twenty million euro has already been spent in the planning stages of the M20 and nobody wants to see that money wasted. The County Manager has called for a slower spend on the project over a longer period of time so that the benefit of the work already carried out is not lost.
“The Minister assured the deputation that the M20 remains a priority for the country. It’s a matter now of how best to approach the project in the coming months and years, in the face of serious budget constraints.
“The matter of the proposed Mallow ring road, which would cost €20m for 5km of road, was also raised, with consideration being given to the possible return on investment. There are a number of other projects in the pipeline, which were originally initiated due to projected population increases that now may or may not be realised, where uncertainty now exists regarding the return that could be delivered.
“In Mallow there is going to be a €200 million investment from Dairygold in the local area; €150 million spent in the middle of the town and €50 million outside the town. Is it credible that we could see an investment of this scale with no infrastructural improvements at all?
“Counties like Cork are set to double milk production to meet our targets. We need an adequate road network to make this possible. I stressed to the Minister that any spend needs to be prioritised according to the maximum financial return.
“There is a great willingness on the part of Cork County Council and the County Manager to approach this project as a partnership with the Department of Transport. Cork County Council will shortly be submitting documentation and I intend to pursue the matter with An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny when he comes to Mallow today.
“Local Councillors Tom Sheahan and Gerard Murphy also raised the issues of traffic management and streetscapes in the towns of Buttevant and Charleville, which would also have been tackled as part of the M20 project.
“We are producing 16% of the world’s milk infant formula in Ireland; with Dairygold Co-op being a significant player in this field. Charleville is another major centre of dairy production and we cannot jeopardise the potential growth in this sector because of a lack of infrastructure. There is a renewed focus among the European Member States to pursue growth and investment measures through, for example, the use of structural funds. We must ensure that we are poised and ready to make the best use of those funds.”