Tolls could be key to €850m M20 Limerick-Cork motorway

Businesses show overwhelming support for motorway proposal

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Tolls could be key to €850m M20 Limerick-Cork motorway

Conor Healy, Cork Chamber with James Ring, Limerick Chamber

THE long-awaited €850 million Cork-Limerick motorway could be viable if it is partly-funded through tolls, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said.

Speaking at the Budgetary Oversight Committee, Minister Noonan outlined that project could not be funded alone by the State, as it was “way beyond what was affordable”.

However, he said that if the M20 could be shown to be able to generate an income flow to service borrowings, the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat would allow it to be kept off the national balance sheet.

The economic crash put paid to the project, with campaigners regularly arguing it needs to be built to address regional imbalance.

A survey of businesses along the route is being undertaken by Cork and Limerick Chambers to examine the socio-economic benefits of the M20.

The survey carried out by Red C Research for Cork Chamber and Limerick Chamber found that some 98 per cent of respondents said it would boost economic links between Cork and Limerick.

Some 97 per cent of respondents also predicted a reduction in traffic congestion and journey times between the two cities.

The survey took place in March with over 250 businesses from Ennis, Limerick Charleville, Mallow and Cork Chambers taking part.

Limerick and Cork Chambers have also commissioned Indecon Economic Consultants to look at the benefits of a motorway.

The chambers have argued that the motorway would create a “seamless” Atlantic corridor stretching from Cork to Limerick and up to Galway, which would stimulate the local economies.

“The support for the M20 among businesses is overwhelming, as this survey shows,” said James Ring, chief executive officer with Limerick Chamber.

“In short, the M20 is essential to further stimulate economic growth in the two cities and benefit all areas in between and across their wider hinterlands.  In addition to the economic benefits, businesses believe that the M20 would also enhance safety for users of the road, alleviate stress and improve productivity levels.”

“This will act as a key conduit for economic development along a corridor that can be a powerful counterbalance to Dublin and, indeed, support Dublin by taking pressure off the capital,” said Limerick Chamber’s director of policy, Caroline Kelleher.

“It must also focus on making sure the environment is right for airports to grow as there’s a direct link between airport growth and regional development. The more that Shannon can grow, the more region stands to grow.”

Conor Healy, chief executive of Cork Chamber, said the M20 is needed as a fulcrum point for economic development all the way from Cork to Galway.

“Investing in the route will save time, increase choice and opportunity for people and business throughout Munster.”

The earlier selected route would required the compulsory purchase of 16 residences. 

It would also affect a total of 905 hectares affecting 235 farms and approximately 247 other properties.