Taskforce to unlock future potential of Shannon Estuary

Foynes Port where the NAVI STAR is due to dock this afternoon.

AN economic taskforce is to be established to assess potential development opportunities on the Shannon Estuary including the generation of wind, hydrogen and solar energy.

The terms of reference for the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce were published by the Government on Monday with the group mandated to produce a report by October specifying the actions needed to create jobs and opportunities in the region.

Announcing the taskforce, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Shannon region has a history of economic development through innovations like Ardnacrusha, Shannon Airport, Moneypoint and the Shannon Free Zone.

“Now we must look ahead to the future. This group will help us set out the economic vision for the estuary for the next 20 to 30 years,” he said.

 The five key aims are to assess the Shannon Estuary from an investment and enterprise perspective; to scope potential areas of opportunity; to assess connectivity levels; to specify actions required locally and nationally and to produce a plan with specific steps to avail of the opportunities identified by the taskforce.

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Membership of the taskforce will be selected through an open expression of interest process and the group will be supported by senior officials from relevant Government Departments and agencies.

“This is a relatively quick piece of work,” the Tánaiste said. “We are opening the call for expressions of interest for membership to the Taskforce today and expect a report back by October of this year.”

Welcoming the initiative, Limerick Fine Gael TD and Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan said that the estuary has the potential to transform the economy of the Limerick /Clare and North Kerry Region.

“As the person who sought the inclusion of the taskforce in the Programme for Government, I believe that it needs to be led in a co-ordinated and strategic fashion, so the establishment of a Taskforce that reports to Government with real responsibility is the first step in that.”

He said he envisages the taskforce will deal with a number of issues along the estuary including; tourism, logistics, manufacturing, renewable energy and other areas of economic development.

“The taskforce will have to work with State agencies, public bodies, representative organisations, community groups and individuals who wish to submit their views on how the estuary can provide opportunities for further employment and economic growth in the Shannon Region.

“I’m glad that the Tánaiste has set an ambitious deadline for the completion of their work and I’m anxious to see recommendations that will result in opportunities for job creation and employment along the banks of the Shannon.”

Limerick Green Party TD Brian Leddin also welcomed the announcement and said: “We agreed in the Programme for Government a commitment to supporting the Shannon Estuary and surrounding area. The establishment of a taskforce to evaluate the potential of the Mid West and determining how this potential can be realised, particularly in the deployment of offshore wind power and the new emerging green hydrogen sector, as Ireland seeks to become an exporter of clean energy. There is potential for thousands of new, high skilled jobs for the region.”