Ireland 2040 a new era for cross border corridor
COUNCILLORS HEAR LOCAL DETAILS OF NEW NATIONAL REPORT
LOUTH has a ‘very strong foothold’ in the new National Development Plan ‘Project Ireland 2040’ councillors heard at their monthly meeting.
Council CEO Joan Martin told members that it was a ‘great day for Louth’ as the cross border corridor between Drogheda-Dundalk-Newry had been identified in the regional spatial and economic strategy.
‘I am absolutely delighted,’ said Ms. Martin.
‘It is acknowledged that the key economic driver of the north east border area is the Dublin-Belfast area.’
She added that the plan advocated the ‘strengthening of Ireland’s overall urban structure and cross border networks with a focus including Drogheda-Dundalk-Newry with the Dublin Belfast corridor.
‘In this regard it will be necessary to prepare co-ordinated strategies for Drogheda and Dundalk at regional and town level to ensure their sustainable development as investment locations.’
She added that the Narrow Water Bridge Project was also specifically mentioned in the plan.
Cllr. Peter Savage asked about progress on the proposed Dundalk to Sligo western link.
Ms. Martin confirmed that it had not been included in Project Ireland 2040.
She admitted that ‘ travelling West from Dundalk is very difficult I have to admit.’
Councillors heard that funding for the link was not available, but that there was a possibility of a ‘piece meal’ approach where the road would be upgraded in parts.
Cllr. Maria Doyle welcomed Dundalk’s position within the Dublin-Belfast corridor.
She proposed that Louth County Council consider a similar partnership to that of Derry and Donegal.
The CEO said it was her understanding that this partnership was modelled on the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which exists between Louth and Newry and Mourne Councils.
Cllr. Doyle added that she would like to see Louth ‘ take more ownership of this given the impact Brexit will have on the future.’
Cllr. Edel Corrigan called on those who are members of the MOU to attend meetings.
She said there was ‘very poor attendance, particularly from those on Louth County Council.’
Cllr. Antoin Watters welcomed the inclusion of the Narrow Water Bridge project, appealing for not ‘ to be left on the shelf.’
Cllr. Tommy Byrne added that the plan ‘ looks good on paper, but we need to follow it up with meaningful proposals.
He highlighted two areas in Drogheda, Westgate and the Northern Cross route, where action was needed.
Cllr. Mark Dearey welcomed the national spatial planning, adding that high speed rail links were essential for the cross border corridor.
Cllr. John McGahon noted that there were just eight daily journeys on the Dublin-Belfast rail line, compared to 49 each day between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
He added that at present commuters are fighting for space on the early morning trains arriving into Dundalk.
Joan Martin explained that Louth County Council have just become involved in a ‘pre feasibility study’ of high speed rail, which she hoped would be completed by the summer.
She acknowledged issues raised about area’s in Drogheda, and Ardee, but told councillors that it was not possible to include everything in the submission Louth County Council had made.
Cllr. Tomas Sharkey asked if the plan made way ‘for all the schools that will be needed?’
‘We also have to think where are all the plans for the new houses in County Louth, and where are the plans for the services and facilities needed before those houses are built.’
Chairman, Cllr. Colm Markey added his welcome for the cross border corridor being featured in Project Ireland 2040.
He agreed that a high speed rail was ‘essential.’
‘ This plan is good news, but we have to keep the pressure on.’