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Will the National Development Plan review benefit Co Wicklow?

Date: 4 October 2021

It most certainly will, says Green party TD Steven Matthews "this is the greenest National Development Plan we have ever seen and its prioritisation of public transport investment across rural and urban centres will bring improvements to Wicklow commuters.

For the past few years, I have been working with the NTA and Wicklow County Council on the prospect of extending the DART service to Wicklow Town and possibly further. Since being elected in February 2020 I have held meetings with Irish Rail, the Department of Transport and the Council and there is strong support for improving service and frequency on the Wicklow line. This makes far more economic and climate sense than continually expanding the N11. The NTA draft Transport Strategy will be published soon and I have made a compelling business and environmental case to them to include the electrification of rail services to Wicklow Town.

With an overhead electrified system to Wicklow Town, there is then potential to use Battery Electric Trains to serve about another 70 km round trip further south. That gets you within distance of Arklow and back where locations such as Avoca and Glenealy could benefit from these electric services. I am currently carrying out a questionnaire in these two areas to gauge interest and demand in reinstating their long-closed stations and providing a regular service.

"If the NTA agree to include electrification to Wicklow Town in their Transport Strategy that will be a major step for Wicklow. With the NDP review strongly backing rail investment and the DART+ expansion projects the next challenge is to expand the design scope for DART Coastal to include Wicklow Town and I believe that is deliverable under the NDP.

Its not all about rail though, along with continued funding for roads maintenance the NDP review will also channel a decade of funding towards rural bus services, implementing Bus Connects, delivering express busses for the N11 and retains the LUAS to Bray as long term objective.

"The programme for government committed to a Green Party objective of an Active Travel budget of €360 million per year on cycling, walking and Safe Routes to School over five years of Government. This commitment to €1.8bn has essentially been doubled to €3.6bn over the next decade of the NDP and will transform every town and village in Ireland into safe and inviting places to walk or cycle to school, shops, work or transport hubs and enjoy our public open spaces. That is Green planning at its best as every local authority will be resourced and funded to provide this infrastructure over the next ten years.

"This NDP is about a decarbonised future, healthy homes that are warm and efficient through an extensive retrofitting program, investments in school buildings, health services and water infrastructure throughout Wicklow, affordable homes for purchase or rent being delivered by the local authority supported by the Land Development Agency and state funding and thousands of jobs in the green economy and in green construction, powered by our offshore wind and our on shore solar renewable resources. The review of NDP and the Climate Action Plan will ensure a clean green decade and protection for our children’s future throughout Wicklow.



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