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THE newly un­veiled Project Ire­land 2040 has been given a ‘cau­tious’ wel­come by Louth TD De­clan Breath­nach.

Speak­ing in the Dail last week Deputy Breath­nach said: ‘I cau­tiously wel­come the Na­tional Plan­ning Frame­work 2040 but I am hop­ing that in plan­ning the work, we will work the plan.

I ex­pect it will soon have proper leg­isla­tive foot­ing un­der the Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment (Amend­ment) Bill 2016.

Project Ire­land 2040 is a very am­bi­tious plan for our coun­try. How­ever, a lot of what it con­tains isn’t new and are ini­tia­tives that have been an­nounced al­ready.

He said he wel­comed the re­gional roles iden­ti­fied in the plan in­clud­ing Drogheda Dun­dalk-Newry cross-bor­der where net­works will be iden­ti­fied and sup­ported in the rel­e­vant Re­gional Spa­tial and Eco­nomic Strat­egy.

He also wel­comed the recog­ni­tion in the plan of the ‘im­por­tance of the Dublin to Belfast Cor­ri­dor as be­ing the largest eco­nomic clus­ter on the is­land of Ire­land.

De­pute Breath­nach said: ‘ The pro­posed link­age in the plan of a high speed train net­work be­tween the two cap­i­tal cities of North and South must be com­pleted.

He added: ‘We are still wait­ing on the Ardee By-pass, and I know that fund­ing has been ear-marked over a num­ber of years. Im­prove­ment in in­fra­struc­ture is im­per­a­tive if we are to continue to at­tract in­ward in­vest­ment to the re­gion.’

He high­lighted the cre­ation of new em­ploy­ment in the Dun­dalk area 300 new jobs in Dun­dalk when the medicine pack­ag­ing com­pany Was­dell com­mit­ted to open­ing a new 70,000 sq ft plant. This UK com­pany wish to re- tain a pres­ence within the EU. This is a huge growth area, as a po­ten­tial from Brexit, and it is im­per­a­tive, along the Eastern Cor­ri­dor that in­fra­struc­ture, in­creased hous­ing to ac­com­mo­date sus­tain­able pop­u­la­tion growth with a good qual­ity of life is pro­vided. This would in­clude pro­vid­ing con­nec­tiv­ity with high speed broad­band as be­ing a ba­sic re­quire­ment.’

‘It is all well and good talk­ing about mas­ter plans, but when many in my re­gion are left with­out any hope of get­ting high speed broad­band, it re­flects badly on those as­pi­ra­tions con­tained in this plan.’

He added: ‘ As noted in the plan it will be nec­es­sary to pre­pare co-or­di­nated strate­gies for Dun­dalk and Drogheda at both re­gional and town level to en­sure that they have the ca­pac­ity to grow sus­tain­ably and se­cure in­vest­ment as key cen­tres.’

‘We also need to pro­tect ru­ral towns and com­mu­ni­ties and it would ap­pear that there will be a short­fall in fund­ing when you look at the plans for the four cities which will un­doubt­edly eat into the ma­jor­ity of the fund­ing leav­ing larger towns to suf­fer the deficit,’ said Deputy Breath­nach.

‘I would also like to say that un­der Na­tional Pol­icy Ob­jec­tive 15 to sup­port the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of ru­ral ar­eas by en­cour­ag­ing growth and ar­rest­ing de­cline in ar­eas that have ex­pe­ri­enced low pop­u­la­tion growth – in this re­spect, I would like to see op­por­tu­ni­ties for those tra­di­tion­ally and gen­er­a­tionally en­ti­tled to re­main in their lo­cal ar­eas, to be al­lowed build in their lo­cal ru­ral com­mu­nity whether ru­ral or in a small town with­out the myr­iad of plan­ning re­stric­tions that cur­rently ex­ist.’

‘An im­me­di­ate so­lu­tion to the hous­ing crisis we are cur­rently in would be to bring in emer­gency leg­is­la­tion im­me­di­ately pre­vent­ing vul­ture funds com­ing in and putting fam­i­lies out of their homes. ‘

He added: ‘ The Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties should be the first port of call in pur- chas­ing th­ese dis­tressed loan books at the same knock-down prices that the vul­ture funds are buy­ing them for. This would pre­vent even more fam­i­lies from be­com­ing home­less.’

Mean­while Dun­dalk TD Peter Fitz­patrick has praised the launch of Project Ire­land 2040, which he should would’ de­liver real in­vest­ment and proper plan­ning for Louth.’

‘Louth is go­ing to ben­e­fit from real in­vest­ment and proper plan­ning as a re­sult of Project Ire­land 2040. The plan will sup­port fam­i­lies and strengthen com­mu­ni­ties in Louth, and will en­sure sus­tain­able growth for the fu­ture of the county.

‘Project Ire­land 2040 is backed and sup­ported up by a €115bn Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan.’

He wel­comed the in­clu­sion of Dun­dalk and Drogheda as key cen­tres on the Drogheda-Dun­dalk-Newry cross-bor­der net­work and in the con­text of the Dublin-Belfast eco­nomic cor­ri­dor.

‘High­lights for this re­gion also in­clude the N52 Ardee By­pass,’ said Deputy Fitz­patrick.

‘ The pro­posed road de­vel­op­ment com­prises a 4.7 km sin­gle car­riage­way N52 by­pass of Ardee town, and is planned to progress the project in 2018.’

He also wel­comed pro­pos­als to link the Dart to Drogheda train sta­tion, and the ben­e­fits to the north east.

Louth Deputies, De­clan Breath­nach and Peter Fitz­patrick.

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