independent

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Don't leave Louth out of 2040 plan

Paddy Malone
Paddy Malone

Anne Campbell

If Louth and Dundalk is left out of a new spatial plan being drafted by the government, it will have disastrous consequences for the future of the area, which is already at the frontier of battling Brexit, Dundalk Chamber of Commerce said this week.

The Chamber's PRO Paddy Malone is urging everyone in this area to make their views felt ahead of the Thursday deadline for submissions after concerns were raised that the National Framework 2040 plan would focus more on the west coast than the east.

Dundalk received 'Gateway' status under the last plan in 2002, ensuring that the IDA and other State agencies prioritised the area. But it is understood the current government thinking is that the 'Gateway' project was unsuccessful and they will turn their attention in future to creating an 'Atlantic Arch', comprising Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

There are fears, therefore, that the North East in general, and Louth in particular, could be pushed to the side in favour of the South and West. Mr Malone said: 'There is an implication in these 2040 proposals to reduce the number of centres or gateways and this needs to be carefully considered. We would argue that the criteria for a growth centre must not be solely based on population.

'We believe the government needs to recognise the size and location of the Drogheda-Dundalk-Newry axis and its potential to alleviate Dublin problems'.

He said the Dundalk, Newry and Drogheda offer 'a sustainable growth centre similar in population to Limerick' and pointed to the fact that Louth is, with Dublin, the only county where over 50% of the population lives in urban areas.

In addition, he wants policy makers to recognise the huge and lasting implications of Brexit and to include these in the 2040 plan. He said: 'The city of Newry needs to be included. The MOU offers the administrative tool and the Good Friday Agreement gives the legal and moral authority.

Comments from everyone, not just businesses, are welcome to Dundalk Chamber before Thursday's deadline and can be made by emailing: paddy@malone.ie or calling 042 9336744 so they can be included in their submission.

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