Taoiseach confident of higher level of funding for Knock Airport

Ireland West Airport Knock

Ireland West Airport Knock

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said this week that he expected that Ireland West Airport would qualify for a higher level of funding than is the norm for regional airports from the EU.

He said at a local press briefing this week: "The application for the approval for the normal regional airport funding is before the European Commission, I expect that to come back out very soon. That's for the approval of 75 per cent in respect of the things you can assist. As you know we've an application lodged for higher funding of up to 90 per cent and that will apply in the case of Knock. But that cannot be done until you get the approval for the general scheme of regional airports first, but it should not be to long."

When asked if there was anything else that the Government could do to address the debt levels of the regional airport, he said: "If this was a case of writing a cheque to relieve the debt, while the amount is substantial it is nominal in the context of our figures, but it is not allowed under State aid rules, so we have to find other ways. That's what the local authorities have been concerned about and come together on."

Progress on N5

The long awaited improvement on the N5 between Castlebar and Westport is one of the major projects that Kenny expects to see come on stream in the near future, speaking about the project he said this week: "It's very much at decision point, there are a number of options here, either a PPP normal bundle operation or direct injection from the capital plan, either way we want to see that this goes ahead, we will develop a capital plan for the next six or seven years, we will publish that in September through Minister Howlin." The first steps in getting works on the ground will be the awarding of a fencing contract for the works, speaking about that he said: "We expect the tendering for the fencing for the Castlebar to Westport stretch to be issued later in the year, so you should have activity on that by the end of the year. That should be under way by the end of the year, then you have all different things in relation to design to go on."

As for what it will mean to the county the Taoiseach said: "I think it will change the dynamics of this county and the economics of it for the next 50 years, you will be able to get over from Castlebar to Westport and vice-versa in 10 to 15 minutes. For industry, hospitality, and that, it will mean a huge change."

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