474 responses were received for this consultation. Thank you to those who took part. The responses will be analysed and considered by the appointed consultants and officials in both jurisdictions. These will inform the finalising of the AISRR Report and associated environmental reports.
Further updates will be published on our All-Island Strategic Rail Review page.
All-Island Strategic Rail Review (AISRR)
The AISRR was launched in April 2021 jointly by the Minister for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland and the Minister for Transport in Ireland.
The AISRR aims to inform policy and future strategy for the railways in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. It has examined how the island’s railways are currently used, what role rail could play in the future and how the island’s railway could better serve the people of both jurisdictions.
The AISRR has focused on how the rail network across the island could contribute to the decarbonisation of its transport systems, promote sustainable connectivity into and between major cities, enhance regional accessibility and support balanced regional development.
Thirty recommendations have been put forward to achieve these goals. To implement the recommendations of the AISRR, a range of projects/schemes would be required. Each of these will be subject to appropriate feasibility, options and environmental assessments at project level, where required.
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
As part of the preparation of the AISRR, and in accordance with the requirements of The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2004, it was necessary to carry out a screening exercise to establish whether this legislation was applicable to the AISRR.
The Screening Report determined that an environmental assessment was required to identify, describe and evaluate the likely significant effects on the environment of implementing the AISRR, and reasonable alternatives, taking account of the objectives and the geographical scope of the AISRR.
The reports relating to this SEA process are available above, along with the draft AISRR report to which they relate.
Equality and rural impacts
The recommendations included in the draft AISRR do not represent official policy for either jurisdiction. Rather, the draft review aims to inform policy and strategy for the future development of the railways in the coming decades and describes what appear to be the most promising opportunities and interventions for rail.
Nevertheless, publication of the SEA and draft AISRR provides an opportunity to optimise information collection processes so that information collected can be used to satisfy all appraisal requirements including those in relation to equality and rural needs. See paragraph 2.26 of A Practical Guide to the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive.
Therefore, as part of this consultation, the Department is also seeking to gather information to understand:
- The potential impacts of the recommendations on equality of opportunity across the Section 75 categories and on good relations.
- The potential impacts of the recommendations on people in rural areas, including the social and economic impacts.
Responses will be used to inform departmental Equality Screenings (and EQIAs where appropriate), as well as Rural Needs Impact Assessments, in line with our statutory duties and Equality Scheme commitments.