Limerick-Cork motorway costs ‘prohibitive’: Varadkar

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

M20 'not feasible' at present: Minister Leo Varadkar. Picture: Sean Curtin
A MOTORWAY between Limerick and Cork is “not feasible” in the current climate, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has told Deputy Patrick O’Donovan.

A MOTORWAY between Limerick and Cork is “not feasible” in the current climate, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has told Deputy Patrick O’Donovan.

Landowners from Patrickswell to Charleville had been preparing to engage with the National Roads Authority on compulsory purchase orders until the €1 billion road scheme was shelved by the government in 2011.

The Fine Gael TD for Limerick had tabled a parliamentary question on whether the project could be resurrected as part of the capital expenditure budget but Minister Varadkar replied last week that the government had no plans to advance the motorway at present.

While it is proposed that the motorway would be built as a public-private partnership with significant investment from the private sector, the cost to the state of planning and other preparatory works were too high at present, Minister Varadkar said.

“In relation to projects of the scale of the M20, it is not feasible given current and future projections that the State would be in a position to build this from its own resources. Rather, it would be constructed through the PPP model. While this model involves the private sector carrying the construction risk, it does require the State to meet the initial design, planning and land purchase costs. In the case of the M20, to a significant degree more than any other roads project, these costs are prohibitive at present,” said the minister.

“In 2011 I indicated to the NRA that they should withdraw their application to An Bord Pleanála for the M20 Cork to Limerick route. I was concerned that to proceed any further with the scheme to build the M20 would have exposed the NRA to significant costs arising from a consequent requirement to purchase the CPO’d land within a limited timeframe.

“This would have had to be done without the reasonable prospect of proceeding to construction stage quickly. I do not believe the basis exists at present that would give confidence that a PPP of the scale of the M20 would be affordable or achievable and thereby justify commencing the project through planning again. However, this position is constantly under review,” Minister Varadkar told Deputy O’Donovan.