Opportunities for Fingal Coco to Grow Active Travel Department – Joe O’Brien

21st January, 2021

Follows announcement of funding for up to 248 new jobs in local authorities to expand walking and cycling facilities all over the country

Minister Joe O’Brien of State for Community Development and Charities is urging Fingal County Council to avail of significant funding for positions that support walking and cycling facilities. The Environment, Climate Action and Active Travel Department which has responsibility for mobility planning and the delivery of the National Transport Authority’s cycle network within Fingal can benefit significantly from the newly released funding which will be facilitated through the County and City Management Association.

Speaking about the funding for the new roles Minister O’Brien said,

“Having previously established the Environment, Climate Action and Active Travel Department Fingal County Council gave a clear indication that they are committed to prioritising the promotion of Active Travel as part of its ongoing commitment to Climate Action.”

“The funding announced by my colleague Minister Ryan to create new roles with a focus on active travel is very welcome news. As the recruitment of the additional resources will be a matter for Fingal County Council in line with their normal procedures, with costs proposed to be attributed to the Department of Transport’s sustainable mobility programme, this presents a great opportunity for the Executive to fully staff and resource the Active Travel Department to delivery the progressive plans the officials have for walking and cycling facilities across the county.

“During the negotiations for the Programme for Government, an area I fought hard on, was to secure commitments for 10% of the transport budget to be allocated to cycling and 10% to walking, and I want to see a safe and sustainable environment for active travel in our Fingal.”

“The increase in the funding available for active travel has meant a significant increase in the sheer volume of competing demands for the newly stood up Department. The funding for additional jobs in this area could provide a welcome relief on the bottleneck of projects within the Council.”

With the increase in funding for active travel in the Programme for Government, National Transport Authority is challenging Fingal to deliver 130kms of new cycling infrastructure over the next five years and these new resources and roles are crucial in delivering on this task and more.”

Green Party councillor for the Skerries and Balbriggan area, Cllr Karen Power also welcomed the news saying:

“With this significant funding for jobs in the area of active travel, we have a very real opportunity to fundamentally change how we get from A to B all across Fingal. In particular, I am pleased to see the requirement for all local authorities to allocate some of this funding on appointing an Active Travel Officer dedicated to behavioural change and promotional activity. At the most recent County Council meeting I brought forward a motion calling for this position within Fingal. I welcomed the support and enthusiasm amongst most of the Council and the Executive in relation to this and am looking forward to this role coming into existence with the new funding from Minister Ryan.”

“Additional roles will help the Council in taking steps towards creating a solid active travel network will mean that Fingal will be a much safer place for everyone to walk and cycle to school and I look forward to continuing to work with those in the new Environment, Climate Action and Active Travel Department in Fingal County Council to continue to increase sustainable travel options for all our communities in Fingal.

The Programme for Government has already committed that €1.8bn will be spent on walking and cycling over the lifetime of the Government, and this initiative will ensure that the expertise will be available to improve infrastructure and increase participation by making facilities safer and more accessible.

For more information please contact Karen Power, karen.power@oireachtas.ie

Notes for Editors

Minister Ryan has asked the County and City Management Association (CCMA) to co-ordinate among local authorities in relation to the plan as developed by the National Transport Authority.

The National Transport Authority has worked with local authorities in developing a revised delivery structure for active travel infrastructure and promotion. This revised structure will cover all local authorities, both rural and urban, and will be augmented by increased dedicated support through the network of Regional Design Offices across the country.

Details in relation to, and implementation of, the revised structure are being discussed by local authorities under the auspices of the CCMA and recruitment of the additional resources will be a matter for the individual local authorities in line with their normal procedures, with costs proposed to be attributed to the Department of Transport’s sustainable mobility programme. It is expected that up to 218 staff could ultimately be assigned to the new active travel teams across all local authorities with a further 30 additional staff available through the Regional Design Offices.

The Minister has requested that local authorities ensure that as part of the development of these teams that each will include an Active Travel Officer dedicated to behavioural change and promotional activity.

The proposal fulfils a number of important Programme for Government commitments in relation to active travel and will ensure that increased infrastructure investment is overseen by dedicated and adequately resourced local authorities across the country.