Government's national planning framework 'threatens Shannon's potential'

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Rose Hynes, Shannon Group chairperson, speaking in UL

Rose Hynes, Shannon Group chairperson, speaking in UL

A HIGH-PROFILE regional businesswoman says the government’s National Planning Framework (NPF) would threaten Shannon’s potential to become a major global aerospace centre.

Rose Hynes, who chairs the Shannon Group plc, says the Ireland 2040 plan as its stands, will only “entrench” the economic imbalance across Ireland.

She said widespread hopes that regional centres could flourish as second-tier cities under the plan are worryingly absent from the first draft of the NPF.

But she emphasised that if the broad outcry of adverse reaction from the regions is heeded, Government has the opportunity to correct this by the time the plan is finalised.

“If Ireland as a whole is to grow and flourish in the decades ahead, it’s not enough for government policy to focus only on Dublin. Of course Dublin can and should grow – it’s our capital and our main business city.

“However, there’s widespread recognition that development has been unbalanced. Regional centres such as Limerick and the Mid-West, or Cork, or Galway, should complement Dublin, not compete with it. We should be aiming to grow these city regions, focusing on distinct industries – including aerospace here – to create flourishing and growing second-tier cities offering great quality of life and increasing the prosperity of Ireland as a whole,” she told the Shannon Leasing Conference in Limerick over the weekend.

“Shannon Airport is critical in attracting FDI and Tourism to the Mid–West.  All 16 new FDI announcements in the region in the last year specifically noted Shannon Airport as a key factor in their investment decision. Over 40% of existing US FDI in Ireland is within the catchment of Shannon Airport,” Ms Hynes added.

“The local authority rates burden on hangars makes it harder for Ireland to compete with other countries for maintenance, repair and operational business,” she said, calling for it to be lessened – and the IDA mandated to target aerospace investment.

“The aerospace industry can grow considerably here if Government policy is supportive and finds ways to accelerate and make things happen. We can bring more growth and more jobs – and make things happen now.  But we need enlightened government policy, and more regional balance, in all our interests.  

"Current normal thinking won’t work,” she concluded. 

The deadline for submissions to the NPF fell last week.