Reimagining our Country:
Government launches €116bn
Project Ireland 2040

Issued by the Government Press Office

  • First time in Irish history that Planning & Investment have been linked
  • Four new funds totalling €4bn for rural & urban growth, climate action & innovation
  • Major transport focus linking all parts of Ireland & filling gaps in North West
  • €22bn climate change programme as well as major public transport investment
  • Preparing Ireland for Brexit by investing in the future & targeting at risk sectors
Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework - PDF
Project Ireland 2040 National Planning Framework (Click to view)

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar and the Government today launched a €116 billion plan to re-imagine Ireland and prepare for the future following a special Cabinet meeting at the Institute of Technology in Sligo.

In front of an audience of college students, the Cabinet unveiled Project Ireland 2040 which aims to build their Ireland of tomorrow, and prepare for a future society which will have an extra one million people, and 660,000 more people at work.

Project Ireland 2040 takes a radically different approach to future planning by focusing not just on bricks and mortar, but on social, economic and cultural development. It links planning and investment for the first time in Irish history, balances rural and urban investment, and will avoid the mistakes of the past.

Three quarters of new growth will be outside Dublin, with 50% of the projected population growth planned for our towns, villages and rural areas and 50% for our cities. Dublin, our capital city, must grow up and not out. And it’s underpinned by a 10 year €116 billion National Development Plan. This is a dramatic increase in public investment for Ireland, and makes Ireland a European leader for investment, leaving behind the lost decade since 2008.

Above all, Project Ireland 2040 aims to Brexit-proof Ireland by investing in the future with a particular focus on the Border Regions.

It includes four new funds designed to stimulate renewal and investment in rural and urban areas, the environment and innovation:

  • €2 billion Urban Regeneration and Development Fund;
  • €1 billion Rural Development Fund;
  • €500 million Climate Action Fund;
  • €500 Disruptive Technologies Fund.

There is also a significant focus on the environment with €22 billion allocated to tackling and dealing with climate change across transport, energy and commercial State agencies.

An Taoiseach said:

“This marks a significant milestone in our country’s development, the point at which we put a lost decade behind us and move forward into a new decade of expansion. This is a plan for all our citizens – the old, the young, and the yet to be born, living in towns, in cities and in the countryside. It follows the spirit of Collins and Lemass, people who always strove to raise the prospects of every Irish citizen. It’s about ensuring that all parts of Ireland fulfil their potential. As we approach our 100th anniversary as a sovereign nation, it’s about investing to ensure our country is insulated against any possible challenges like Brexit. It’s a path to a positive, sustainable future.”

Commenting on the National Development Plan, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe said:

“This National Development Plan will change how we invest in public infrastructure in Ireland. It moves beyond the approach of the past, which saw public investment spread too thinly and investment decisions which didn’t align with a spatial strategy. These practices contributed to some of the major issues that we, as a country, face today, particularly the predominance of Dublin in terms of economic growth, alongside the challenges facing rural communities.”

Speaking about the National Planning Framework, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy said:

“Ireland stands on the cusp of great change. In the next 20 years we will grow by an extra one million people. This raises a series of important questions for our consideration, the most basic being where will all these people live and work, what kind of quality of life will we each enjoy, and how will a country of almost six million people impact on our communities and on our built and natural environment?

We have a responsibility to answer these questions; we have a responsibility to plan for the changes that we face – to manage our future growth in a productive and sustainable way. This is a challenge certainly, but it is also a great opportunity for a new generation to imagine, and implement, a shared vision for each community on this island.

Project Ireland 2040 represents an important shift from previous approaches to long-term planning and investment by Government. It is an approach that joins up ambition for improvement across the different areas of our lives, bringing the various government departments, agencies, State owned enterprises and local authorities behind a shared set of strategic objectives for rural, regional and urban development.”



Project Ireland 2040 comprises two parts:

  • The new National Planning Framework shapes future growth and development of Ireland to the year 2040, by guiding public and private investment, creating opportunities for people, and enhancing our environment;
  • And the new ten-year National Development Plan, which underpins the Planning Framework with €116 billion worth of investment.

Some of the key features of Project Ireland 2040 include:

  • €8.4 billion investment in primary and post primary schools, 50 large scale school projects annually with an additional 15,000 schools places annually;
  • 2,600 extra acute hospital beds and three new dedicated ambulatory elective-only hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Galway to specifically tackle waiting lists;
  • Extra primary care centres and more residential accommodation for mental health services and people with disabilities;
  • €7.3 billion for regional road accessibility investing in national roads across Ireland, plus €4.5 billion for regional and local, improving links to the north west and across the country;
  • Building at least 25,000 homes a year by 2020, rising to 30-35,000 annually up to 2027;
  • Providing social housing for 112,000 households over the next decade;
  • Developing the Atlantic Corridor high-quality road network linking Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo;
  • €2.2 billion investment in higher education infrastructure, including Public Private Partnership investment in 11 Institutes of Technology;
  • Significant investment in bus and rail fleets, overhauling bus networks through the BusConnects programme in our cities, and transitioning to low emission buses;
  • Investment in our airports and ports, including a second runway for Dublin Airport, a Regional Airports Programme and dedicated investment in Dublin, Cork and Shannon Foynes Port;
  • A major investment programme in cultural institutions, regional arts centres, national parks and sports capital programme;
  • Vacant or under-used land in villages, towns and cities will be put into use through a National Regeneration and Development Agency;
  • Short-term delivery of the National Broadband Strategy ensuring coverage in villages, rural areas and islands;
  • Develop the Metro Link in Dublin, expand DART to Drogheda, Celbridge, Maynooth and Greystones, and planning for the expansion of Luas;
  • New segregated cycling and walking facilities and networks, especially in cities and towns;
  • Bring unemployment rates in all regions down to within 1% of the national average;
  • Ongoing focus on Foreign Direct Investment but giving equal priority to a local enterprise economy and setting up an Advanced Manufacturing Centre;
  • Expanding the IDA Regional Property Programme;
  • A particular focus on cooperation and joint development of border areas that open up potential for an all-island economy;
  • A new runway for Dublin Airport, investment in Cork, Shannon Airports, and Ireland West Airport Knock, and for smaller airports;
  • Major development of Dublin, Cork, Shannon-Foynes and other Ports,
  • Upgrading energy insulation in 45,000 homes per annum from 2021;
  • Significant investment in national cultural institutions.

Funding the Investment

Project Ireland 2040 involves investment in infrastructure of almost €116 billion in the ten years to 2027. This combines €91 billion directly from the Exchequer, as well as nearly €25 billion by State-owned commercial companies.

Public capital investment will therefore move from relatively low levels in recent years as a result of the economic crisis, to being amongst the highest in the EU (as a percentage of national income). This will allow us respond to the obvious deficits in our infrastructure, as well as the needs of a fast-growing population.

This increased investment is being done in a prudent and measured way. It takes account of the external uncertainties facing the Irish economy, as well as the risks of overheating.

The National Development Plan represents a new approach to public capital investment in Ireland. It is about reforming how public investment is planned and delivered. This will be achieved through a decisive shift to integrated regional investment plans, stronger co-ordination among various sectors and a more rigorous selection and appraisal of projects to secure value-for-money.

A new funding model for Exchequer funded public investment is being put in place to ensure that resources are allocated to projects and programmes that support the achievement of the objectives set out in the new National Planning Framework.

The average capital investment in the EU over the last twenty years was in the region of 3% of national income. Under the National Development Plan it is projected that public capital investment will reach 3.8% of national income (GNI*) in 2021 and 4% by 2024, with sustained investment averaging 4% on an annual basis over the period 2022 to 2027.

Notes to Editor:

Ten Strategic Outcomes

Project Ireland 2040 seeks to achieve ten strategic outcomes, building around the themes of wellbeing, equality and opportunity. These ten shared priorities will ensure a consistent approach between planning objectives under the National Planning Framework and investment commitments under the National Development Plan. They are:

  • Compact Growth
  • Enhanced Regional Accessibility
  • Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities
  • Sustainable Mobility
  • A Strong Economy, supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills
  • High-Quality International Connectivity
  • Enhanced Amenity and Heritage
  • Transition to a Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Society
  • Sustainable Management of Water and other Environmental Resources
  • Access to Quality Childcare, Education and Health Services
Further information on Project Ireland 2040 can be found here
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