Cllr Ger Darcy
Nenagh councillors have urged Tipperary County Council to make sure its voice is heard when it comes to implementing the new National Planning Framework Strategy 2040.
The plan was announced earlier this month by Minister Simon Coveney and designed to set out how Ireland will develop over the next number of decades.
Councillors were reassured at this month's Nenagh Municipal District Council meeting that Tipperary will be making a submission in its own right as well as joint submissions with counties in the Mid West and the South East.
“The submissions will put Tipperary to the forefront,” senior planner Sonya Reidy told councillors.
Earlier, Cllr Ger Darcy said that the previous National Spatial Strategy, under which Nenagh was ignored as a hub or gateway town, “did a lot of harm to North Tipperary. It was focused on Ennis and Limerick.”
The Fine Gael councillor said this part of Tipperary “suffered for years” by having no Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). However, under the former Mid West Regional Authority councillors had been able to get Nenagh at least into the blueprint to promote the area.
But, he warned, South Tippeary will have "different ideas" and it was important to remember that.
As an example of how the region had suffered, he pointed to how Shannon Airport had declined “day after day” when it was governed by Dublin Airport Authority. “The first step towards progress was when it became independent of the DAA. However, we need to keep promoting Shannon as Dublin can't cope any more,” he said.
Cllr Darcy also pointed out that with third level colleges in the region, and especially in UL in Limerick, Nenagh had huge potential for high-tech industry, especially under Brexit.
“Look at First Data,” he said in reference to the US global financial giant that is opening a R&D facility in the town.
“This is an opportunity we should grasp and not make a hames of," he said.
Cllr Hughie McGrath also stated that Shannon should be developed, saying: “I can't understand why we are not focusing on Shannon as a major international hub. Dublin doesn't need another runway.”
District Cathaoirleach Cllr Phyll Bugler also called for greater links beween Tipperary, Limerick and Clare, and was backed by Cllr Mattie Ryan and Cllr Michael O'Meara.
“Shannon's competition is Knock and Farranfore,” said Cllr Bugler. “We need to work with Limerick as being near Limerick can only bring advantages.”
strong limerick links
Cllr O'Meara maintained that having strong links with Limerick would make the region more vibrant.
“There are moves to make Limerick the country's second city and it would be a big advantage for us to push that. The infrastructure is there. What would be good for Limerick would be good for Nenagh,” he said.
Cllr Seamus Morris claimed the new strategy would be hugely important for this region, saying Dublin and the East coast had grown to “unsustainable levels”.
“The last spatial strategy collapsed. I've been banging the drum for a long time about keeping our resources here.,” he said.
Cllr Morris said that in relation to plans to pump 330 million litres of water a day from Parteen Basin to Dublin, “Irish Water has been spinning yarns about how much water Dublin needs”.
He believed that by allowing the plan to go-ahead, the region was saying it did not need the resources.
“We need a proper spatial strategy for the country,” he declared. “When Parteen Basin is sucked dry we will have nothing left here.”
Cllr Morris also pointed to developing Shannon Airport and pointed out that Foynes had the second deepest port in Europe. He claimed the port had thousands of acres locked in for development but Tipperary had never been asked to have any say in its development.
“I'd rather be sending my kids in the road there than up to Dublin,” said Cllr Morris.