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Guidelines urge protection of Shannon rail route

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NO development should go ahead that would prevent a rail link between Shannon and the main Limerick/Galway line from being built in the future, according to the Mid-West Draft Regional Planning Guidelines 2010-22.

Nick Phillips trying to unblock a flooded alleyway at the rear of his house at Cluain Airne during the flooding in 2008. The new guidelines identify the provision of water plants for Shannon. Photograph by John KellyThe draft states that it’s important Shannon Airport be as accessible as possible and that a rail link may help. “Shannon Airport is a key part of the international and inter-regional transport infrastructure of the region. It is critical for its future viability and to maximise its potential that its connectivity with the region and other regions is of the highest quality.
“The development of a link from Shannon to the Limerick/Galway line may well be a necessary part of this long-term network. While current assessments suggest that the provision of such a line would be uneconomic and would bring limited additional benefit under the prevailing technological conditions, this may not always be the case. Pending future decisions on this line, Planning Authorities should ensure that construction or other activities that would compromise its development do not take place.”
The guidelines also warn that Shannon’s risk of flooding will need to be managed cautiously. “OPW data suggests that a very large section of Shannon, including the airport runway and parts of the industrial estate, are located in areas protected from flooding by artificial embankments and drainage systems. The area has a total employment of over 10,000 jobs, or roughly 10% of the Mid-West economy. In the context of rising tide levels associated with global warming, these defences will require to be reviewed by the planning and other responsible authorities.”
While there is an acknowledgement of the significance of Shannon’s industry, it also notes that there was little growth in terms of employment between 2004 and 2006.
“The Mid-West hosts some nationally significant concentrations of industry. The Shannon Free Zone comprises the largest single concentration of industrial and international service activity on the Western Corridor. It was noted in 2004 that about 7,500 people were employed in over 100 companies, generating over €2,000m exports annually. It was also noted that there had been an acceleration of development in the internationally traded services sector such as financial/insurance services, software/telecoms services and customer contact centres. However by 2006, no significant increase in employment was recorded at Shannon.”
The draft identifies the provision of water and waste water plants for Shannon as two infrastructure priorities for the coming years.


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