Samuel Beckett Bridge

Navigating the future

Crowe's insight into Ireland's National Development Plan and the Infrastructure Guidelines

Samuel Beckett Bridge

Ireland's ambitious National Development Plan (NDP), which covers the period 2021–2030, represents a transformative vision for the country's infrastructure and public services and sets out a roadmap for sustainable economic growth and resilience.

The NDP is a strategic component of Project Ireland 2040, which was introduced in 2018, and it outlines a decade-long public capital investment framework. With a total public investment of €165 billion, this plan aims to elevate public investment to 5% of Gross National Income (GNI), surpassing the EU average. This incorporates €91 billion of Exchequer investment and €25 billion of non-Exchequer investment, which includes investments from the commercial semi-state sector. The funding model for the NDP ensures a diversified investment strategy that leverages both public and semi-public resources for nationwide development projects.

The experts at Crowe Ireland, as trusted advisers for Government departments and agencies and the private sector, are uniquely positioned to provide insights into this comprehensive plan and the intricate process of public investment it entails.

At Crowe, we understand that the selection of projects for capital investment under the NDP is grounded in a rigorous and strategic process. Departments and agencies begin by setting sectoral strategies and goals, identifying specific needs and evaluating potential projects through the lens of the new Infrastructure Guidelines (the Guide).

In December 2023, the Public Spending Code (PSC) for capital expenditure was replaced by the new Infrastructure Guidelines. These guidelines are now the standard for evaluating, planning and managing public investment, emphasising value for money and efficient use of public funds, especially in infrastructure projects. They aim to ensure projects are cost-effective and support economic and public welfare. This change follows Circular 06/2023, issued in March 2023 by the Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform. The Circular updated capital appraisal guidelines, raising financial thresholds for significant projects and revising requirements throughout their lifecycle. Additionally, the guidelines require Government departments and their accounting officers to develop sector-specific procedures that align with this new framework for managing public investments.

National Development Plan and Infrastructure Guidelines

Administered by the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform (DPENDR), the Guide mandates rigorous procedures for project appraisal, including feasibility studies, cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment, tailored to align with relevant public policy objectives. These criteria ensure that investments are not only justified but also scrutinised for their economic, environmental and social impacts, as well as ensuring transparency, with evidence-based decision-making aimed at efficient public spending for sustainable development.

Crowe Ireland stands at the forefront of helping clients navigate through the new Infrastructure Guidelines. Our expertise in financial advisory, business cases and strategic assessments allows us to offer unparalleled insights and support to public bodies and private-sector clients alike.

How are Ireland's new Infrastructure Guidelines helping the objectives of the National Development Plan?

Ireland's Infrastructure Guidelines play a crucial role in achieving the objectives of the NDP and the development of the country's long-term economic, social and environmental goals. Below is a brief overview of our understanding of how they contribute to the objectives of the NDP.

1. Strategic Planning and Investment Allocation

The Infrastructure Guidelines identify priority areas that support sustainable growth, thereby assisting in the strategic planning process. Resources can then be directed towards projects with the highest potential for positive impact on the economy and society, such as transportation, housing, healthcare and energy.

2. Sustainability and Environmental Protection

With a strong emphasis on sustainability, the guidelines ensure that infrastructure projects contribute to environmental protection and climate action goals. This includes promoting the use of green technologies, reducing carbon emissions, and incorporating climate resilience into the design and construction of new infrastructure, aligning with Ireland's commitment to achieving carbon neutrality.

3. Economic Development and Competitiveness

The Infrastructure Guidelines support economic development and enhance Ireland's competitiveness by improving connectivity, accessibility and efficiency. For example, investments in transport infrastructure reduce travel times and costs, support the movement of goods and services, and attract foreign direct investment by improving the business environment.

4. Social Inclusion and Equality

By prioritising projects that address regional disparities and improve access to essential services, the guidelines help promote social inclusion and equality. These projects include developing affordable housing, improving healthcare facilities and expanding educational opportunities, which ensure that the benefits of growth are widely shared across all segments of society.

5. Innovation and Technology Adoption

The guidelines encourage the adoption of innovative technologies and practices in infrastructure projects, such as smart city solutions, renewable energy sources and digital services. This fosters a more efficient, responsive and adaptable infrastructure network that can meet the changing needs of Ireland's population and economy.

7. Regulatory Compliance and Best Practices

By establishing clear standards and best practices for infrastructure development, the guidelines help ensure that projects are completed to a high quality, are cost-effective, and comply with national and international regulations. This reduces the risk of delays, cost overruns and other challenges that can derail infrastructure projects.

Ireland's new Infrastructure Guidelines keep the essence of the old Public Spending Code and pave a clear path into the process of project lifecycles. The Guide is essential for translating the NDP's ambitious vision of the development of all sectors in the country. The NDP is not just a financial blueprint; it is an ambitious vision for Ireland's future development across all sectors, which the guidelines will help to achieve. Crowe Ireland is proud to be part of this journey, offering our expertise to ensure that this becomes a reality, with every project contributing to the nation's prosperity and resilience.

Contact us:

Consulting Partner Shane McQuillan Crowe Ireland
Shane McQuillan
Partner, Consulting
Clodagh O'Brien, Partner, Consulting - Crowe Ireland
Clodagh O'Brien
Partner, Consulting