Failure to develop Limerick’s planned Northern Distributor Road would impact negatively on future investment potential and jobs at the National Technology Park, leading multi-national employers and the IDA have said.
Three of the largest FDI employers, Johnson & Johnson Vision, Cook Medical and Northern Trust, with a combined work force of over 3,300 people and the IDA have come together to state their concerns that rejection of the proposed road by councillors would be a significant regressive step for the city, county and region and send the wrong signal to inward investors.
A spur from the Limerick Northern Distributor Road (LNDR) is seen as the panacea to existing capacity constraints on the main road through the National Technology Park (NTP) and UL, which has up to 40 minute delays that will deny further expansion and investment into the area.
The closing date for submissions from stakeholders and the wider public on the LNDR is Monday next, Limerick City and County Council members will vote in May on incorporating the suggested corridor for the new road into the County Development Plan.
Clare County Council, which has responsibility for areas that the proposed road will also traverse, has already approved the project in its Development Plan.
While the project cannot proceed without its inclusion in the County Development Plan, the planning authority that will make the ultimate decision on whether or not the road goes ahead will be An Bord Pleanala.
But according to the FDI companies and the IDA, rejecting the Northern Distributor Road at County Development Plan stage would be a major set-back for Limerick and the region. It would, they said, fly in the face of hard earned and growing reputation of Limerick and the Mid-West region as a leading inward investment location and, in particular, restrain the National Technology Park’s job creation potential.
IDA business and relationship manager, Mid West Region, Niall O’Callaghan, said, “The Limerick Northern Distributor Road is essential as it would unlock current capacity constraints surrounding the National Technology Park, and further enhance the Mid-West’s value proposition as being an accessible location to do business. Ultimately it will improve the potential of further investments from both existing client companies and new names who may consider the region into the future.
“Limerick and the Mid-West have been the great success story of the Irish economic recovery. This is now the fastest growing region in Ireland for FDI investments and that is a huge turn around since we launched our Regional Strategy in 2015. It hasn’t happened by chance but rather through a sustained and collective effort by all of our regional stakeholders. Not including the Northern Distributor Road in the county development plan would run contrary with the pro-business reputation that all stakeholders have worked so hard collectively to build over the recent past and would be a regressive message.”
Barry O’Sullivan, Johnson & Johnson Vision plant manager and chairman of the Action Plan for Jobs for the Mid West, said, “Our region needs modern infrastructure to remain competitive, both to hold existing investment and to attract future jobs. A strong Limerick is key to growth across the wider region.
“This road is vital and it would be disastrous for future development and future jobs in the National Technology Park if it were to be rejected again. It will relieve both the National Technology Park and neighbouring areas of the current congestion issues and open it up for further investment, expansion and job creation, continuing the success story that Limerick has become,” he said.