LIMERICK Chamber has said that the DAA’s monopoly is bad for the country in its National Planning Framework submission.
Allowing unregulated market domination by Dublin Airport is not in the national interest and will add further to its monopolistic position, one of the country’s largest business representative groups has stated.
Limerick Chamber, the largest chamber in the Mid West and third largest in the country, has said that aviation must be one of the key focus areas for the government if it is to redress the current economic imbalance that is causing the divide between the Dublin region and the rest of the country to widen at an alarming rate and, at the same time, causing congestion and uncompetitiveness in the capital.
In its submission to the National Planning Framework, ‘Ireland 2040 – Our Plan’, which has been described by Chamber CEO James Ring as a pivotal framework for the future of the nation, the Chamber said that in the long-term, regional cities on the western half of the island will play a key role in rebalancing the national economy but policy must be put in place to direct that correction.
Two key areas highlighted in the Chamber submission for promotion under the NPF were Shannon Airport and the Shannon Estuary. It is the single most important piece of planning in the interest of the wider nation that any government will take on in our lifetime. Minister Coveney must be congratulated on initiating this but we have to get it right.
“We have an economy about to tip over on one side almost and the NPF is the opportunity to redress that. At the 100th anniversary commemorations of the birth of our greatest innovator and visionary from this region, Brendan O’Regan, this week we saw a video clip of him from 2004 in which he talked then about the struggle between the capital and the rest of the country. He talked about how Ireland’s greatness in the future depends on a successful outcome to that struggle as otherwise we damage the whole country by a congested capital that makes the capital itself an unpleasant place to live also. It’s amazing that 13 years on, not alone have we not corrected that but it’s getting worse. So now, with the NPF, we have the chance to get it right.
“To do that we must create policy that will create an environment for the regions to fulfil their potential, create greater opportunity in the regions, relieve the burden from Dublin and make Dublin, as Dr. O’Regan suggested, a better place to live.
“There’s a direct correlation between airport growth and regional growth. Right now, the DAA monopoly is mopping up the growth, with 86% of the market up from 81% five years ago. In the meantime, Cork’s market share has dropped alarming from 10% to 6.5% and Shannon to a lesser degree, from 5.9% to 5.5%. If the regions are to grow, which is essential, these airports must grow their market share. If they don’t, it can only lead to more growth in and pressure on Dublin and less growth in the regions. It must be dealt with,” he said.
The Chamber submission calls for current aviation policy to be updated and aligned with the objectives of the NPF. “If the NPF is to be the guiding document for the development of our country, with a focus on supporting effective regional development and our second tier cities, it is vital that the 2015 National Aviation Policy should be updated to align with it.
“Currently, much of the growth in passenger numbers is centred on Dublin Airport, which is further adding to its monopolistic position. Unregulated growth of Dublin Airport’s market share will not be in the national interest and will require careful regulation in the future if the Limerick, Galway and Cork cities are to drive their regions’ development in terms of attracting FDI, developing tourism and supporting indigenous industry.”
Separately, recognising the importance of the Shannon Estuary, the submission proposes that the road network between Foynes (the country’s largest bulk port), Limerick and Dublin is upgraded and the disused rail-link to it reinstated. It also proposes that the NPF recognizes and supports the potential of a number of key Shannon Estuary as major investment locations, in particular, the site at Ballylongford, Co. Kerry, where a proposed LNG facility has the potential to create 650 construction jobs as well as 100 permanent jobs once completed and be a major addition to Ireland’s energy infrastructure.
The development of the M20 between Cork and Limerick was highlighted as a major infrastructure requirement to support second tier cities and complete the Atlantic Corridor. It also recommends revitalising city centres and supporting city development plans, in particular Limerick 2030, to transform disused space and create Living Cities, support rural areas as they seek to diversify their economic base and address the ongoing delay in rolling out broadband.