Minister of State for the Department of Transport Jack Chambers TD pictured at Shannon Airport House with Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes and (from left): Russell Vickers, CEO, Future Mobility Campus Ireland; Cathal Crowe TD; Joe Carey TD; Senator Timmy Dooley; Ray O’ Driscoll and Ian Barrett, Shannon Chamber directors. Photograph by Eamon Ward
Shannon Chamber welcomed the opportunity to meet with Minister of State for the Department of Transport Jack Chambers TD during his inaugural visit to Shannon on Friday, 24 February 2023.
The meeting, which took place in the Chamber’s offices in Shannon Airport House, was attended by board directors, Chamber member Future Mobility Campus Ireland, and elected representatives Cathal Crowe TD, Senator Timmy Dooley, and Joe Carey TD.
The visit enabled Chamber directors to discuss issues of concern to members and transport-related submissions that the Chamber has made to Government.
Commenting on the visit, Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “Having recently contributed to the Mid-Term Review of the Regional Airports Programme 2021 – 2015, we were delighted to discuss the two main items we put forward for consideration in that submission.
“Our key asks in this submission were that the Regional Airports Programme (RAP) would be expanded to include all regional airports with under 3 million passengers for CAPEX, PPR-C and PPR-O support, as permitted under EU State Aid rules, and that it would support a new EU Hub connectivity for Shannon Airport.
“Shannon Chamber welcomed the inclusion of the State-owned regional airports, Shannon and Cork in the RAP to enable it deal with and recover from COVID-19. This was in line with the business case made by the joint chambers and the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) in 2021, when we also made the case that Shannon and Cork should be permanently included in the Programme as this is permitted in State Aid rules which allow funding for airports with less than 3m passengers. Extending the Regional Airports Programme to all regional airports would provide an opportunity to address the imbalance that currently exists in aviation in Ireland, support investment in the regions, and help realise the objectives of Ireland 2040. It would deliver a more balanced economy for the country and recognise the benefits of our airports for economic growth.
“We were encouraged to hear from the Minister that the Government is giving both items consideration and look forward to responding to the RAP Issues paper when it is put out for public consultation next month and to the Programme being finalised by year end.
“We were delighted to note that the review of the National Aviation Policy will involve consultation and we look forward to contributing to that process also. Our request to Government is that this Policy should be positioned in the wider context of where Ireland wants to go in terms of sustainability, and not regarded simply as a component of transport. Underutilised assets should be considered for the all-encompassing contribution they can make to the economy,” Ms Downes stated.
Shannon Chamber also discussed the future of the Shannon Heritage sites in Co. Clare with Minister Chambers and was encouraged to note that progress is being made on the transfer of these historic site to Clare County Council.
“These heritage sites in County Clare have played a pivotal role in the economy of the Shannon region, in attracting tourists to the area and in driving passenger traffic through Shannon Airport and we have expressed our concern that these regional and national assets simply cannot be allowed to deteriorate due to lack of Government support,” added Ms Downes.
Having recently responded to the N19 Shannon Airport Access Road Improvement Scheme Phase 3 Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report, Shannon Chamber advised Minster Chambers that the Chamber has been invited to partake in a meeting to discuss the draft plans for this scheme and looks forward to seeing the comments put forward by the Chamber being considered in the finalisation of the plans.
Shannon Chamber chief executive Helen Downes updated the Minister on the steps the Chamber is taking to place sustainability at the core of its operations and to deliver on the pledge it has made in its recently launched strategic plan to motivate members to commit to a sustainable future for their businesses and for the environment.
“Our newly established Sustainability Task Force is already garnering the support of members. Over forty companies have attended the three Task Force meeting held to date, objectives have been set in the four key areas of energy, waste, water and biodiversity and we expect to see a measurable set of deliverables by year end.
“We were delighted that Minister Chambers accepted our invitation during the meeting to officiate at a Task Force event later this year,” added Ms Downes.