Ire­land 2040 a new era for cross bor­der cor­ri­dor


The Argus - - NEWS - By OLIVIA RYAN

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.’

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