IT is anticipated Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar will this Thursday sign off on a Heads of Agreement for the delivery of a Lynxs Cargo facility at Shannon.
A Heads of Agreement document outlines the type of issues to be dealt with in a partnership and is often one of the last steps before a final contract is signed. Finalising this would be another significant step towards delivering a Lynxs Cargo facility, which would give the mid-west a major long-term economic boost.
Two years ago, Lynxs and the Shannon Airport Authority (SAA) signed a memorandum of understanding for the purpose of jointly developing a major international logistics hub. Last year, SAA chairman Brian O’Connell outlined the type of benefit the facility could bring. “At present, there are about 3,000 people currently employed in logistics in the Shannon Region. The creation of a logistics centre at Shannon and the development of a marine transportation hub on the estuary could potentiatlly lead to the creation of further employment for 5,000 people in logistics and related high-end manufacturing in the wider region over the next 10 to 15 years.”
The Lynxs group and Shannon released a statement following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, which outlined what would be involved. It stated the facility would cost in the region of $15 million and would involve the building of new storage facilities, warehouses, offices and parking facilities.
It was initially anticipated that work would start by mid-2010 with the final stages of construction expected to be finished by the early part of this year.
Early this summer, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announced that the Dublin Airport Authority, which controls Shannon, had agreed to provide investment for the facility.
Clare TD Pat Breen said the finalising of the Heads of Agreement is a very positive step. “Over the past number of months, negotiations have been ongoing between the DAA and the Lynxs group and the news that the Heads of Agreement has been finalised, which will outline the details of how this partnership will proceed is the second last step in the realisation of the project. The final step will be the signing of contracts between both parties,” he said.
He had particular praise for Minister Leo Varadkar. “I would like to congratulate all involved in these negotiations and especially the SAA personnel in Shannon, who have driven this project. However, particular credit must go to the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar. Since taking up office, I know from discussions with him, he is very supportive of the Lynxs project. He can see the potential, which it has for the region and he is very anxious to get this project up and running.”
Mr Breen is in the US this week and he said he will be meeting a number of congressmen, whose support he will seek for the extension of the US preclearance facility at Shannon to include cargo.
“We now have a real opportunity to develop Shannon Airport as a catalyst for cargo development. A huge selling point for us in promoting and encouraging tenants to set up their cargo operations will be the availability of US Cargo preclearance and I will be making this point very strongly at my meetings,” Mr Breen said.
His colleague, Joe Carey, also welcomed the news. “I’ve pushed the need to exploit cargo for a number of years and this announcement is very positive. It will have a positive impact on employment, initially with the creation of construction jobs and later the operation of the facility. It will also act as a magnet for manufacturers to set up in the mid-west. This is very welcome news and a boost for Shannon, Clare and the mid-west,” Mr Carey added.
Fianna Fáil’s Timmy Dooley said progress on delivering the facility was positive but much more needs to be done. “It’s something that was initiated a few years ago and there have been positive developments but in the long term, its potential could only be realised if pre-clearance for cargo to the US is negotiated,” Mr Dooley said.