Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the discussions his Department has had with the management of the Port of Waterford Company regarding accessing funding through European Union regional development funding, or any State-sponsored capital infrastructural funding.
REPLY (Minister Pascahl Donohoe):
The Port of Waterford is recognised as a Port of National Significance (Tier 2) in National Ports Policy. While there is no exchequer funding provided to ports, ports are encouraged to explore all other avenues of funding available to them.
As the Deputy is aware, at a European level, the Port fulfilled the criteria for recognition as a 'comprehensive Port' in the comprehensive network of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) - a planned set of road, rail, air and water transport networks in the European Union.
Waterford Port is eligible to apply for funding through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a key EU funding instrument to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at European level.
Officials from my Department have met recently with Waterford Port Company to advise and encourage them to explore projects that might qualify for CEF funding.
In December, the Department facilitated a meeting between the port and officials from the Commission, the European Investment Bank and INEA (the Executive agency for CEF). In addition, the port attended a recent information session on Motorways of the Sea (MOS), a horizontal priority of the Connecting Europe Facility, hosted jointly by the Department and the European Coordinator for Motorways of the Sea.
Once again, an individual meeting was facilitated between the port and the European Co-ordinator. My Department is aware that the Port of Waterford is actively exploring a joint venture with a number of partners in preparation for an application for Motorways of the Sea funding.
Waterford Port is within the South East Region for EU Structural Funding purposes and the managing authority for the Regional Operational Programme is the Southern Regional Assembly.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) co-financed Regional Operational Programmes (2014-2020) approved by the Irish Government and agreed with the European Commission in December 2014 were formally signed in Brussels in Februaury 2015.
The regional programmes focus on five thematic areas: research and innovation, enterprise development, broadband infrastructure, energy efficiency and integrated urban development.
Port infrastructure was not identified as a thematic priority for co-funding under the 2014-2020 programmes. However, the Southern Regional Assembly have advised that they are available to provide additional information and advice to the port in relation to potential future funding through the regional programmes.