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Scant detail in NDP on Shannon rail link

THIS week’s National Development Plan has promised that more support will be made available to Shannon Airport going forward.
“In line with the 2015 ‘National Aviation Policy for Ireland’, Cork and Shannon Airports will continue to be supported in their roles as key tourism and business gateways for their regions, particularly with regard to the development of niche markets,” the report stated.
It said that Shannon may soon be able to access funding that up until now was reserved for smaller competitors.
“Airports that facilitate international connectivity, and handle less than 1 million annual passengers, are eligible to apply for grant aid under the new 2021 – 2025 Programme.
“Eligible airports include Donegal, Kerry and Ireland West (Knock). However, given the impacts of Covid on passenger numbers, Shannon and Cork airports are likely to be eligible for funding under this Programme in 2022 and potentially 2023.”
It also said that aviation will be encouraged to wean itself off fossil fuels.
“Airports will be encouraged to move away from using fossil fuels, where possible, including a move from diesel to electric Ground Power Units (GPUs) in line with any new requirement under a revised Alternative Fuels Directive.
“Electrical GPUs allow aircraft to plug directly into an electricity powered energy source while parked on the airfield. Currently, aircraft at regional airports plug into small, mobile, diesel-powered engines. These are noisy and emit pollutants.
“Removing diesel-powered units would have significant operational and environmental benefits for all airport users.”
The document also restated one measure announced a number of months ago.
“In response to the impacts of Covid, in addition to the capital envelope for regional airports in the NDP, €16.3m is being provided to the airports of Cork and Shannon in 2021 under a one-off Regional State Airports Programme. Of this, €10 million is supporting a significant runway reconstruction project at Cork Airport.”
In a section of the NDP entitled ‘Modernisation of the State’s Office Portfolio, it states that there will be “major investment in a newly acquired property in Shannon, Co Clare”.
The NDP document takes Shannon company Hooke Bio Limited as a case study of a company that accesses the State’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund.
It says that there has been a cost of €1.9 million, approved by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Explaining what the Shannon company is working on, it says, “Hooke Bio Limited in partnership with Munster Technological University and NUI Galway is working on a project for High Throughput Drug Screening Platform Realisation. “
It also says that their work can reduce the need for animal testing for pharmaceutical safety screening, while it could provide more accurate pre-clinical testing models increasing the success of drug candidates going for clinical testing.”
It says that so far the company “has successfully met its technical, strategic and cost milestones while adapting to the changing market environment.”
It also says that Hooke Bio’s prototype device has attracted €2.2 million of seed funding and has won numerous awards including one from Enterprise Ireland in 2017.
In terms of regional and local roads, it says that the Coonagh to Knockalisheen project is now under construction and that the Shannon Crossing/Killaloe Bypass/R494 upgrade will commence shortly.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.