An Bord Snip Nua has a number of recommendations in the intertwined areas of energy, environment and transport:
1. End energy, environment and climate awareness programmes
2. Water charges and road pricing
3. Reduce energy subsidies to the price of carbon; abolish said subsidies when the carbon tax is introduced; end subsidies to regional airports and domestic flights
4. Discontinue selected train services
5. Merge water authorities, market regulators, and safety regulators
6. Privatise Bord na Mona and Bus Eireann Expressway
I agree with all of the above.
On 4, I would also end public subsidies to the planned interconnector to Wales. This is a commercial proposition; there are few externalities, it is not a public good, nor is it a natural monopoly.
On 5, Sean Lyons pointed out that the Irish Aviation Authority is a market regulator and should therefore be merged with other market regulators rather than with the Road Safety Authority, the Railway Safety Commission and the Maritime Safety Directory. I confused the Irish Aviation Authority, the safety regulator, with the Commission for Irish Aviation, the market regulator. The safety regulators should all be merged into Safety Ireland. The market regulators should be merged into Competition Ireland.
On 6, I would go further. An Bord Snip Nua argues that state-owned companies should pay higher dividends, but I would sell them at the first opportunity. 2010 may be too soon, but we should be able to get a decent price from 2011 onwards. I would also end the monopoly of Dublin Bus.
An Bord Snip Nua is silent on waste management. While two incinerators are being build, the government is trying to divert future waste away from incineration towards other, more expensive forms of treatment. If the government succeeds, it will (1) destroy capital and (2) increase costs. Arguably, this is not in the budget yet and therefore outside the remit of An Bord Snip Nua, but the investment is measured in hundreds of millions of euros.