Essential infrastructure in Galway is not "fit for purpose", requiring major upgrading to boost business and create more jobs, according to IBEC, whose west regional director John Brennan says his organisation, which represents Irish business, is urging the Government to prioritise the west.
"The Government is expected to shortly publish a new capital expenditure plan and Ibec has highlighted a number of urgent infrastructure deficits which are limiting the success of businesses in the region," he says, adding that while businesses in the west are beginning to feel the benefits of economic recovery, many remain hamstrung by "significant infrastructure gaps". He says: "Very little capital investment has been delivered to the region over the past seven years and we are now playing catch-up."
Brennan says the time is perfect for an ambitious plan of investment. "We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to avail of really low interest rates to deliver an ambitious capital investment plan for the west region. If we invest wisely now and deliver much needed infrastructure, the region will benefit for many years to come and business will create more jobs.”
IBEC's west regional executive committee has identified a number of major road projects which it believes should be prioritised over the next five years. They include the completion of the Tuam to Gort M17 / M18 motorway and the N6 Galway outer bypass N5 Ballaghaderreen-Strokestown and Castlebar-Westport, while the N17 Galway to Sligo is a "medium-term priority".
However, he says, there are other major infrastructure needs, including upgrades to the water and waste water networks. Broadband also remains a key infrastructure gap, requiring public funding to deliver "the essential infrastructure to those locations for which it is uneconomic for the private sector to do so".
"For the west region to deliver on its growth potential, it needs world class infrastructure," he says. "Our current road, environmental and broadband infrastructure is either not fit for purpose or inadequate to meet future demand. Now is the time to invest ambitiously and businesses in the west are calling on Government to provide funding for a number of key infrastructure projects in the region, which will ultimately ensure a handsome return for the State through the benefits of business, social and employment prosperity."