Chambers Ireland calls for greater ambition and accelerated pace in delivering strategic infrastructure
Feb 22, 2021
Chambers Ireland today (22 Feb 2021) calls on Government to put climate action, urban renewal, and gender equality at the heart of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and National Development Plan.
Speaking this afternoon, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said
“The key messages coming from our Network are that Government action must be accelerated and more ambitious.
The Irish economy has faced incredible challenges over the past 12 months, the demands that the Brexit process and the Covid-19 crisis have put the political and administrative resources of the state under enormous pressure.
Further, because of the economic constraints of the necessary public health response to the pandemic, and the compounding impact of Brexit, we are far from where we need to be if we are to meet the demands that the coming decades will place upon our capital infrastructure, our society, and our environment.
However, it is our view that there is an opportunity for Government to refresh its approach to delivering for the long term needs of the economy. With the current availability of low-interest finance, we should be redoubling our investment in energy infrastructure and strategic transport.
Moreover, as we consider how we can best support the wider economic recovery, the promised National Economic Plan should focus on upskilling our workforce, especially when it comes to digital skills, and supporting gender equality through investment in childcare.”
With respect to the proposed “Town Centre First” strategy, Chambers Ireland Head of Research Shane Conneely calls for a radical, joined-up approach to how we deliver for urban centres.
“Urban Living must be central to the National Development Plan. If we are to meet our 2030 climate targets, living in urban areas must become something that people aspire to. Our cities and towns need to become welcoming and attractive places to live.
More, and better, urban living not only supports the objectives of the National Planning Framework, but building sustainable cities and communities helps people develop lifestyles which are more active and so are less carbon intensive.
We know that cities and towns where people live are healthier business environments, but with the right investments they also support better quality of life too. People friendly streets are business friendly streets because the opportunities are where the customers are.
There are broader effects too. Upgrading and reusing vacant premises will help us address social policy problems like the housing crisis, and will do so in ways that will consume less of our carbon budget.
Meanwhile improving the physical stock of our cities and towns offers us an opportunity to efficiently retrofit those buildings which will not only reduce the cost of living for urban populations, but it will also have a disproportionately positive effect on reducing fuel poverty too.”
Notes to Editor:
- Chambers Ireland Submission to Department of Public Expenditure on the National Development Plan Review
- Chambers Ireland Submission to Department of the Taoiseach on the National Recovery and Resilience Plan
- Our Electricity supply needs to be moved to a more sustainable footing if we are to be able to meet our revised 2030 emissions targets. This means that our Grid infrastructure needs investment to be modernised so that we can move our renewably sourced electricity from the regional areas where it is produced to where it is needed.
- Investment in ports and in research/innovation support will be critical if we are to maximise our capture of the supply chain benefits and wealth creation that will be associated with the massive investment in offshore energy that we can expect to see over the coming decades.
- Creating more liveable cities and towns in our urban areas must also be at the heart of Government’s application. Our high streets and urban centres have been blighted with vacancies and dereliction must also be a priority a work programme. This “Town Centre First” approach and focus on urban centres will not only enliven our economy through strengthening the domestic economy, but it can also support ameliorating the housing crisis and supporting a shift from carbon intensive means of transport towards more active alternatives.
- In terms of digital investment, a town-centre first approach can also be supported through investing in high-speed broadband to support co-working hubs in urban centres, which will enable the return of workers to urban spaces, supporting footfall and the local economies of these areas.
- Finally, we must ensure that inclusion and gender-equality is at the heart of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. This means that affordable, accessible quality childcare must remain a priority for investment.