In line with its mission to stimulate and facilitate the growth and development of Shannon and its environs through local, regional, and national representation and co-operation, Shannon Chamber has inputted to two Government calls for submissions in the first three months of 2021.
The first submission, made in February, was to the review of the National Development Plan which the Government is undertaking to take account of the changed environment that Ireland is now facing, including the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, and to better reflect the major priorities set out in the new Programme for Government. These priorities are aimed at tackling the most important challenges facing us as a nation including climate action, housing, balanced regional development, healthcare, social welfare policy, transport, education, development of our arts, culture and heritage, and the associated resourcing requirements.
In this submission, Shannon Chamber responded to a set of required questions which sought input on whether the current level public spending on capital investment is correct, what the capital budget should be spent on, what types of capital investment should be prioritised, how the management and governance of public investment could be improved, and how the NDP is affecting the Mid-West region.
Details of all Shannon Chambers responses can be found in the link below.
Regarding capital spend, key points made included:
- Decisions on capital spend must be based, not on absolute numbers or percentages but on the overarching economic plan, which is Ireland’s case, must have a strong regional dimension.
- Invest in infrastructure to provide connectivity between regions within the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC), the rest of the country and global markets; maintain or increase capital spend to facilitate and accelerate the growth of the renewable energy generation potential across the AEC.
- Expand the opportunities for Shannon Airport to become a centre of drone/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) development, testing and certification.
- Build on what we have learned from COVID-19 ad create a balanced mix of sustainable economic activity across our regions.
Regarding how the NDP is affecting the Mid-West region, the point was made that while there are positive elements in the plan, such as the regeneration of Shannon Free Zone buildings there are negatives such as the critical requirement for commitment and investment to produce a viable new Shannon Town Plan.
Shannon Chamber also suggested that the NDP should provide funding for the delivery of advance infrastructure, appropriately zoned and serviced land with road, utilities and the services required to encourage private sector investment in a mix of housing types and, funding or incentives to encourage reintegration and re-purposing of older buildings.
Given the progress being made on the development of a Future Mobility Campus in Shannon, the second submission, made by Shannon Chamber in March 2021, was in response to the public consultation of connected and autonomous mobility (CAM) in road transport.
This submission also called for responses to a set of questions related to the guiding principles that should inform the roll-out of CAM in Ireland, areas that should be included, the strategic goals Ireland should adopt for CAM, the opportunities associated with CAM in Ireland, the barriers to its development and deployment and the risk associated with its roll-out.
The Chamber suggested that, given that the development of the sector rests within multiple Government departments, cross-departmental collaboration will be essential, including the allocation of a dedicated fund to address CAM and future mobility in both urban and rural areas.
Given that plans to develop a Future Mobility Campus in Shannon are well advanced, the Chamber said that legislation to enable the testing of automated and autonomous vehicles on public roads as one of the most pressing issues which needs to be addressed in the immediate term as without this legislation the sector will not progress.
Commenting on the need to respond to such public consultation calls, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “We need to keep balanced economic development firmly on the Government’s agenda. This region does and will continue to make a substantial contribution to the national economy and this calls for continual appraisal of the attributes of the region and how they can be beneficially deployed to deliver further economic gain, not just for the Mid-West but for Ireland in a European and global context,” states Ms Downes.