Ibec calls For A Long Term Planning And Investment Strategy For Ireland

Ibec- the group that represents Irish business – has called for an ambitious long-term planning and investment strategy for Ireland to redress the growing imbalance between the regions and the greater Dublin economy.

In their submission to the public consultation on the National Planning Framework, Ibec said that in order for the 2040 plan to succeed it must have much stronger political and administrative support to ensure more efficient planning and delivery of major development projects.

Fergal O’ Brien, Ibec’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs, stated: “The Irish economy is recovering at a pace much faster than many expected, but not all parts of the country are benefitting equally. Given its size and economic importance, we need the city of Dublin to grow at a sustainable rate. Our capital is in a global race for investment and we need to ensure that it ranks high among the world’s most liveable cities.”

“But none of this should come at a cost to the other regions. Government planning needs to address the growing imbalance between our cities and regions, as well as ensuring connectivity across all parts of the country. It makes economic sense to invest wisely now in the regions to allow businesses to create more jobs locally. Ireland needs an effective counter-balance to the Dublin economy. This can be best delivered through improved connectivity of our Atlantic cities and ensuring that all regions are well connected to the Dublin economy and to each other”.

“Right now Ireland severely lags behind our competitors when it comes to infrastructure spend and the cost of doing business. In fact, we are the lowest investors of capital in the EU, even though we have the fastest growing population. Our research shows that businesses make decisions regarding their location on a number of factors, and quality of life ranks high. If we want to continue to attract FDI clients to our shores, Government must break away from the austerity mind set and ramp up spending on public infrastructure – it makes no sense to pursue a debt reduction strategy of 45% of GDP which is well below our EU requirements of 60%. This continued austerity could only be achieved by sacrificing much needed public investment.”

“The National Planning Framework, if developed correctly, could illustrate to the international community our commitment to infrastructure planning and delivery. It would drive confidence and have the potential to improve investment inflows. But for this to happen, it requires administrative and cultural changes in the way we do planning. Too many infrastructure projects have been subject to unnecessary delays, postponements, or worse, due to bad planning decisions. We believe the best approach is an All Island one. The majority of businesses are organised in this way, with supply chains stretching across the length and breadth of the country, so it makes sense that planning is conducted in the same manner. We are encouraged therefore to see that the Department of Housing, Planning Community, and Local Government is working closely with their Northern Ireland counterparts.”

“While the new Plan will be placed on a statutory footing, this alone does not guarantee its success. It must receive adequate governance structures and agency support to deliver on the promises made in the consultation document. It is encouraging that an office of the Planning Regulator is to be established to over see its implementation.”

“The new Plan must be underpinned by increased State investment, in context of the Public Capital Programme, in transport, broadband, water services, health and education infrastructure across all regions. This would have the knock on effect of increasing productivity, employment opportunities, and improved standards of living by reducing transport costs, connecting regions to cities, and attracting more private sector investment.”

As such, we believe the policy areas for the National Planning Framework to address in order to effect change are:

• Ambition for our regions- addressing the spatial imbalance.
• An All Island approach to planning.
• A clear strategy for cities and place making.
• Improving the effectiveness of planning.
• Equipping Ireland for future development- infrastructure provision.
• Better agency coordination, implementation and governance.

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