The Local Authorities of Clare and Tipperary County Councils and Limerick City and County Council together with our partners in Shannon Group, University of Limerick, Limerick Institute of Technology, Shannon Foynes Port Company and the Mid West Action Plan for Jobs, working in collaboration make this joint submission to the National Planning Framework (NPF).
It is our vision that the Mid West Limerick City region, building on the strong governance structures that already exist, will be developed into a dynamic Tier 2 City Region, identified in the NPF as a focus for growth which can exert critical mass leverage to contribute towards national development and competitiveness.
The identification in the NPF and the positive promotion of the Mid West Limerick City region which includes Shannon, with its competitive and historical advantages of central location, its national and international connectivity, national assets such as Shannon Airport, Shannon Foynes Port Company, third level institutes, abundance of natural and man-made national assets, high quality of life and human capital has the capacity to both complement and create additionality to the sustainable growth of Dublin.
The designation of a Mid West Limerick City Region, with capacity for significant population increase and located at a centre-point between Galway and Cork cities, would maximise the economic and social benefit to the greatest benefit of surrounding centres of population in the west and south west and their rural hinterlands, resulting in significant sustainable development for the State.
Through a focus on maximising the significant existing and future capacity of national assets such as Shannon International Airport, Shannon Estuary and Shannon Foynes Port Company, University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology, Moneypoint and Lough Derg water resource – many of which are not reliant on significant State funding - the NPF can achieve significant eff ective regional development through prudent use of capital, reducing the burden on the exchequer whilst maximising the rate of economic return.
There is a vibrant mix of towns and villages and contrasting landscapes, a high quality of life, a range of existing and planned social amenities, educational facilities and the availability of housing in the MidWest Limerick City Region. It is this mix of social and economic resources and in particular its rural areas that which diff erentiates the Mid-West Limerick City Region from other areas and provides its strength as an agent for eff ective regional development.
The city-region has strength across many aspects of enterprise but is particularly strong in the areas of tourism, aviation and manufacturing. The Shannon Free Zone as well as other major industrial sites within the city-region have a long history of high-quality manufacturing. This has been added to by an expanding services sector in recent years with many new largescale service enterprises being established in the region in recent years.
Tourism is also a key industry in the region and unlike most industries, where goods and services are transported to the consumer, in the case of tourism based on natural assets and environmental resources, consumers and employees travel to the location of the product in order to enjoy it. Many of Ireland’s most popular tourism destinations are located in the region, all of which are easily accessible to both national and international visitors. Recent initiatives such as the Wild Atlantic Way build on and promote the natural and cultural attractions.
In addition to focussing on maximising the significant capacity of existing national assets in the region to support sustainable future development, the NPF should positively identify and promote the following projects and initiatives to give eff ect to the opportunities which lie within the Mid-West Limerick City Region and its rural areas.
- Prioritise the achievement of the Mid West Limerick City Region as a Tier 2 city region by promoting significant population growth within the region.
- Policy support for Motorway connection between Limerick and Cork and also upgrading of the N24 to Motorway standard.
- Complete the Limerick Northern Distributor Road. • Provide a faster rail link between Limerick and Dublin and between Limerick and Cork.
- Utilise existing rail infrastructure to provide improved commuter connectivity between Limerick and Shannon and Limerick and Nenagh.
- Promote the development of the Strategic Development Sites on the Shannon Estuary as set out in the Strategic Integrated Framework Plan for the Shannon Estuary (SIFP).
- Prioritise of the delivery of the proposed Foynes to Limerick Road Improvement Scheme and rail link and support further the role and expansion of Foynes Port, recognising its status as a Tier 1 port of national significance.
- Align national aviation policy with the NPF and maximise the utilisation of the capacity of Shannon International Airport, whilst increasing air traff ic to the country at no significant extra cost to exchequer.
- Promote Shannon as a National aviation services and aerospace centre.
- Maximise road access to and the development of the significant land-bank at the Clare Campus of the University of Limerick and Errina Canal integrating learning, research, employment, living and ongoing economic, social and culture development.
- Identify Shannon Estuary, Silvermines, Slieve Callan and Shannon for marine, Pumped Hydro and CHP renewable energy hubs.
- Support the creation of a national advanced manufacturing centre and the development of Aerospace subcomponent manufacturing in the region.
- Increase opportunities for rural development, support services and broadband facilities in towns and villages, and identify specific actions to promote the viability and vitality of the rural areas.
- Maximise the potential of the unique natural attractions of the region eg Burren, Cliff s of Moher, Lough Derg, Lough Gur and the Shannon Estuary for sustainable development of the tourist product in the wider region.
Together the relevant agencies have the vision, statutory remit, governance and proven track record to coordinate and drive the delivery of the NPF through an innovative identification of a Mid-West Limerick City Region as a nationally significant economic, social and sustainable development area, achieving eff ective regional development and increasing the quality of life for all who live, work and visit the region.