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Minister Ryan calls for councils to put forward ‘Pathfinder’ transport projects to “demonstrate a pathway to achieving climate goals”

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan is seeking what is termed as ‘Pathfinder’ transport projects to “demonstrate a pathway to achieving climate goals” — councils around tbe country are being asked to put forward suggestions of 2-3 projects each to be funded.

Eligible projects include walking and cycling schemes, public transport improvements, and and measures listed in the National Sustainable Mobility Policy. Such measures includes traffic demand management like congestion charging and related measures recommended by the Five Cities Demand Management report.

Minister Ryan made reference to Pathfinder projects last week at a Government press conference on sectoral carbon targets — as per this clip by RTÉ News:

The Pathfinder programme was mentioned in the National Sustainable Mobility Policy launched back in April. The policy said: “Given the need to act quickly to demonstrate a pathway to achieving the ambitious climate goals set for transport, a first task of the Leadership Group will be to agree a mechanism to deliver a programme of ‘pathfinder’ projects of scale at local level over the next 3 years.”

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It added: “It is intended that these projects will provide a template of people-focused development which can be replicated and scaled up. Experimental and innovative approaches will be encouraged where they can be delivered and at pace. These projects should demonstrate their capacity to achieve carbon abatement, air quality and/or other co-benefits in line with the goals of this Policy.”

Following from the press conference last week, IrishCycle.com asked the Department of Transport details of the programme.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: “The Sustainable Mobility Policy (SMP) Leadership Group and its associated delivery team have been meeting on a regular basis since the launch of the SMP earlier this year.”

“As noted at last week’s National Climate Stakeholder Forum, key priorities of these groups have been to identify a ‘pathfinder’ programme of projects that can demonstrate and highlight the real emissions, air quality, health and other well-being benefits that can be realised by switching to more sustainable transport, and to anticipate and, where possible, mitigate obstacles and constraints to project delivery,” the spokesperson said.

The Department said: “Given the urgency of action required to comply with our emissions targets, all proposed pathfinder projects should be capable of being delivered by 2025.”

“In addition to proposals for pathfinder projects put forward by the representative bodies on the SMP Leadership Group, Minister Ryan has also recently issued a call for additional projects or initiatives to be nominated by each local authority. This call builds on the existing pipeline of active travel and public transport projects that are currently in development. The Department is now awaiting responses to that call and expects submissions to be reviewed by the Leadership Group in September,” the Department said.

The Department said that for a project to be considered for the Pathfinder Programme, the projects must:

  • “Be identified as, or directly linked to, activities set out in the Sustainable Mobility Policy (SMP) and associated Action Plan;
  • Have the potential to act as demonstrator projects for the SMP (i.e. capable of replication elsewhere / up-scaling) – existing, in progress or new;
  • Be capable of being delivered within a 3-year timescale;
  • Demonstrate their capacity to achieve carbon abatement, air quality and/or other co-benefits in line with the overall objectives of the SMP;
  • Support the objectives of the National Planning Framework for better balanced regional development and the low carbon and compact development of our villages, towns and cities.”

The Department spokesperson did not directly and a question on the budget for Pathfinder, but said: “Funding of these projects will be provided from the Department’s existing €35bn NDP allocation, and successful pathfinder scheme proposals will be eligible to receive additional PMO support.”

The Department added: “A first tranche of proposed pathfinder projects is currently undergoing final consideration by Minister Ryan and the SMP Leadership Group. Further details will be announced following approval, though we note these proposals include initiatives across public transport (both bus and rail), active travel, and other areas linked to the SMP action plan.”

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