Economic renewal has been at the forefront of governmental policy for the last few years and it has become clear that productive infrastructure development will at the centre of this. If Ireland is to once again achieve economic prosperity it will be dependent upon infrastructure development across every aspect of the economy.
The future of Ireland’s economy lies in our ability to draw in investment and to trade our goods and services internationally. For both to be successful, we must develop a competitive climate and this will be conditional on the quality, efficiency and reliability of our infrastructure. However the consequences of infrastructure go much further than economic returns. As a society we depend to a large extent upon the quality and efficiency of our infrastructure. We rely upon treatment plants and water mains to supply us with drinking water; energy plants and gas pipelines for heat and light; phone and broadband to connect us for global business, social and entertainment purposes; roads, rail and ports to deliver the goods we buy and sell; and a waste management network to recover renewable resources.
Recent years have seen Ireland hit with more and more extreme weather, from severe flooding to gail force winds. These events have damaged electrical and communication networks, caused road blockages, and prevented air and sea travel while showing just how essential a well run infrastructure is to every day life. Ireland’s vulnerability to these events will only lesson when our Government resolves to continue to maintain and invest in vital infrastructural services.
Above: Map of North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock development.
However, the challenges in addressing infastructural needs are constant as Irish society changes and develops and unpredictable challenges arises. The quest to maintain and develop the capacity of infrastructure to meet the future needs of Irish society is given further impetus by the simultaneous need to address climate change. In the pursuit of a low-carbon society, the sustainability of infrastructure and the way it can facilitate environmentally friendly initiatives at all levels is of essential importance. In financial terms, we are also still very much straitened by our economic situation which means every expenditure the government makes should be a carefully considered and well-planned investment in the future of Ireland. Education, tourism and the intelligent exploitation of our natural reserves have all become a focus across a variety of Irish counties, and the following are just some of the examples of development going on across Ireland in 2015.
Dublin City County Council has drawn up a city development plan up until 2020 that focuses on six areas of development: economic, social, cultural, urban form and spatial, environmental and movement. It also aims to expand the city towards a more coherent layout with a focus on it’s cultural and historical value. Their vision for the city also takes into account Dublin’s growth for the next 25 or 30 years as the economy of Ireland changes. For the immediate future, it will be promoting public transport, cycling and walking over private modes of transport, and seeks to progress strategic projects in conjunction with the National Transport Authority.
It will be creating a network of strategic green routes within the city and extending into the suburbs with the idea of catering for recreational, amenity needs and quality of life as part of a compact city. They will also be prioritising the needs of pedestrians, the mobility impaired and cyclists. The county council will also be concentrating on the economic renewal of the city and strengthening the role of Dublin as a major European capital.
The county council plan to do this by creating employment in the following areas all of which radiate from the city:
1. Northwards to Dublin Airport, including clusters, knowledge, research and growth centres such as Grangegorman, the Mater, DCU and Ballymun / Finglas
2. Southwards from Trinity College to UCD, primarily as a knowledge and innovation corridor including RTE as the national media centre and St. Vincent’s Hospital
3. Westwards from Heuston, including the Digital Hub, St. James Hospital, Park West, Cherry Orchard and the Naas Road developing area and extending into the wider metropolitan area to incorporate new urban centres such as Adamstown.
An Bord Pleanala have given grant approval for the New Planning Scheme for the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock Strategic Development Zone (SDZ). The development will amount to 2,600 residential units and between 305,000 – 366,000 square metres of Commercial floorspace across 22 hectares of land. Once completed it has the potential to bring an additional 5,800 residents to the area and employment for almost 23,000 people. There are plans in the pipeline to build two additional pedestrian walkways to run over the River Liffey as well as a new road bridge in the Ringsend area of the city. Movement is expected later this year regarding these civil projects.
Samuel Beckett Civic Campus project at Ballyogan is in construction for phase one at the moment. This €14 million development will consist of a full size GAA pitch, one senior and one junior grass pitches and three seven-a-side synthetic pitches. There are plans for an architect designed building which will house a new crèche, community rooms and sports facilities. There will also be car, coach and bicycle parking and a skate park. A new sports building with a 25-meter swimming pool is also planned. There is no date as yet (March 2015) for the commencement of the phase two works. Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council believes that the Samuel Beckett Civic Campus will provide a new focus for young and old in the local community. It is hoped that strong links will be established between the Samuel Beckett Civic Campus and schools and community groups in the local area.
Longford County Council have a number of tourism and amenity projects underway this year.
The Camlin Blueway at Clondra
The Camlin Blueway will be launched by Waterways Ireland in March/April 2015. It will be their second Blueway after Drumshambo and will be a circular route linking the Shannon River and the Camlin River. The Blueway consists of water- based activities such as boating and kayaking as well as walking and cycling facilities.
The Royal Canal Walking Cycling Route from Abbeyshrule to Clondra.
The Royal Canal is being developed as the main cycling/walking route from Dublin to Galway via Athlone. It will also run from Mullingar in Westmeath to Clondra on the Shannon River in Longford. Last year Longford Tourism completed a walking cycling route from Longford Town to Clondra via Kilashee along the Royal Canal. It is hoped the completion of the route through to Westmeath will commence by the end of 2015. This shall be a substantial project in opening up Longford/ Westmeath for cycling and walking based tourism and amenity.
The Mid Shannon Cycling and Driving Tourism Route from Ballymahon to Lanesboro.
This is a major initiative to open up the hidden attractions of the South Longford area for amenity and tourism purposes. Ballymahon is a very attractive estate planned town on the River Camlin, one of the primary kayaking rivers in Ireland. From Ballymahon the route opens out into the wild bogland, rivers and lakes of Longford and takes in some spectacular natural areas on Lough Ree such as Saints Island and Barley Harbour. The route also passes through Lanesboro, an attractive harbour town at the top of Lough Ree at the entry point of the Shannon into the lake from Roscommon and Leitrim.
The Rebel Longford Cycling and Driving Route Tourism from Granard to Ballinmuck via Ballinalee and Longford Town.
North Longford has a fascinating historical tradition of rebellion. This route has been specifically designed to include the Gaelic and Norman Motte at Granard, the Burning of Granard in 1315 by Edward Bruce, the 1798 Battles in both Ballinmuck and Granard, and the War of Independence under General McKeon, who’s Flying Column defeated the Crown Forces at Clonfin. Many other battles were fought during the War of Independence in Ballinmuck, Ballinalee and Ballymahon with Granard being burnt again, this time by the Black and Tans. The trail also takes in the Black Pigs Dyke which marked the boundary between Ulster and Leinster.
The Granard Visitor Centre for Rebel Longford.
The Centre will provide a central point of information and exhibition on the Rebel Longford Trail. Visual displays based on the area’s history and maps and information will be provided in the centre. Michael Collins was a frequent visitor to Granard to meet Kitty Kiernan who he intended to marry. Adjoining the Granard Centre will be a large field laid out to present the history of the area and amenities for visitors leading up to the spectacular Norman Motte at the top of the hill.
The Literary Trail and Literary Longford Centre at the Old Rectory, Edgeworthstown.
Longford has an amazing literary tradition including Maria Edgeworth, Oliver Goldsmith, Padraic Colum and Leo Casey. Oscar Wilde also visited Edgewothstown as his younger sister died tragically and was buried in the Rectory Graveyard. The new centre in the Old Rectory will present the history and information of Longford’s rich literary past. The Rectory shall be presented with period furnishings, paintings and clothes. Jane Austen also has a connection with Longford as her
paramour was Thomas Leffroy of Carriglass Manor, Longford. He was the original Darcy in Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice.
Sligo County Council has decided to direct its attention to making the most of the county’s rich and varied landscape. From mountain hikes to coastal paths and woodland strolls, Sligo is blessed with a vast range of walking trails. Long distance routes the Sligo Way and the Miners Way & Historical Trail have both seen significant improvements over the last year, Knocknarea trail and carpark have been upgraded while a new coastal path has been developed at Killaspugbrone. The Border Uplands Project, funded under INTERREG IVA and delivered by Sligo County Council, is set to provide new and exciting walking opportunities in the County in 2015.
Through this initiative new trails are in the process of being provided at Union Wood, Knocknarea, Mullaghmore and at Benbulbin Forrest Walk all of which are set to launch in the spring. As part of this project a trail has recently been developed at Glencar providing access to “Sruth In Aghaidh An Aird” also known as the “The Devil’s Chimney” waterfall. This is Irelands highest waterfall and is a sight to behold during or after wet weather. This entirely new trail is 1.2km in length and is now open to the public.
Above: “Sruth In Aghaidh An Aird” or the “Devil’s Chimney” waterfall (Credit – Mark Magennis).
Limerick this year will see the construction of two road projects. The final phase of the N21 Killarney Pole to Barnagh Road Safety Scheme has been given the go ahead at a cost of e3.8 million. It comes after a separate e500,000 million contract for the construction of the N24 Dromkeen Traffic Calming Scheme was also signed. Work is to start shortly on both projects with the N21 expecting to be finished by the end of the year and the N24 to be complete by June of this year.
Limerick City and County Council entered into both contracts with P&D Lydon Plant Hire Ltd.
Chair of the Municipal District of Newcastle West, Cllr. Jerome Scanlan, said the work on the Killarney Pole to Barnagh road “will be welcomed by many in the local community who have campaigned vigorously over the years for these improvement works to be undertaken along this section of the N21.” The N24 Dromkeen traffic scheme involves the construction of traffic calming gateways, traffic calming islands, footpaths and bus bays, as well as the modification of an existing minor junction, the provision of additional public lighting and drainage works. Councillor Eddie Ryan, Chair of the Municipal District of Cappamore-Killamallock, has welcomed this measure saying the scheme will bring “immediate safety benefits” for the community of Dromkeen as well as all road users on the N24 national road, which has approximately 10,000 vehicles per day passing through the village.
Broadband Infrastructure: Laois County Council and Laois Partnership have partnered to form the “Laois Broadband Partnership”.
The objective of the Laois Broadband Partnership is to create an environment in Laois which is open and receptive to a range of investment models directed toward development of broadband infrastructure for the county. The initiative will first look to facilitate the necessary investment by private telecommunications operators and will then attempt to make up any shortfall with a community-led strategy.
In the context of the pilot in Ballylinan, there will be a thorough audit of local infrastructure combined with an analysis of the existing broadband provision. The plan will also analyse the broadband needs of the community into the future and animate the community to get behind the initiative. (Both Laois County Council and Laois Partnership have a long experience of working with communities to develop collective community initiatives and has partnered with the Ballylinan Community Council in the past.) Laois County Council and Laois Partnership Company will then partner with the Ballylinan Community Council in a community-led strategy to explore network sharing models for rollout of fibre broadband into the primary settlement and also outlying rural areas.
Wastewater Treatment Facilities
The Laois Grouped Towns Sewerage Scheme (Network and DBO Contract) is currently under construction and due for completion in 2015. There are two contracts in this Scheme; (i) Design Build-Operate (DBO) Contract which involves the construction of 5 new wastewater treatment plants in the towns of Abbeyleix, Durrow, Mountrath, Rathdowney and Stradbally and (ii) Sewerage Network Contract which involves the construction and rehabilitation of 16km of sewer pipelines in the six towns of Abbeyleix, Durrow, Mountrath, Rathdowney, Stradbally and Clonaslee.
The DBO Contract commenced in June 2013 and is expected to be completed ahead of schedule in April/May 2015. The Network Contract commenced in October 2013 and is also expected to be completed ahead of schedule in May/June 2015. The Portarlington Wastewater Treatment Plant Contract involves the installation of a new energy efficient aeration system and process improvements in the Portarlington Wastewater Treatment Plant. The tender documents are currently being finalised with a view to starting on site later in 2015.
Laois County Council granted permission to Portlaoise Parish for the development of a new Primary School site in Summerhill, Portlaoise. Works have commenced and the new school buildings, involving a Junior School and a Senior School are scheduled for opening in September 2015. This will result in the merging of three existing primary schools in Portlaoise into one school campus.
Road improvement on N24 at Arrigan’s Boreen , N65 at Lehinch (near Portumna), bridge replacement at Lismalin Connection of Nenagh to the natural gas network.
Clonmel Borough Municipal District
Convent Bridge and Gashouse Bridge Walk/Cycle Track Clonmel. The aim of this project is to improve the scenic non motorised movement corridor from Convent Bridge across to Mulcahy Park and help promote a culture of cycling and leisure walking in Clonmel. This improvement will be carried out by constructing sections of walk/cycle track along the riverbank. The first section to be constructed is adjacent to Convent Bridge, Clonmel and will require the construction of approximately 600m of walk/cycle track running along the bank of the river. The second section at Gashouse Bridge will involve the construction of approximately 610m of walk/cycle track and the upgrade of approximately 450m of existing walkway. When these two sections are completed it will be possible to travel in a safe and scenic environment by walking or cycling from Convent Bridge to Mulcahy Park (approx. 3Km) by travelling on these two sections and through Denis Burke Park.
Funding has been provided through the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Active Travel Towns 2014-2016. The Part 8 Planning process will commence shortly with an anticipated tender date of May 2015.
Clonmel To Carrick-on-Suir Greenway Project
The proposal comprises the development of a “Greenway” riverside walking and cycling route running along the northern bank of the River Suir for a length of approximately19km from Mulcahy Park in Clonmel to Sean Healy Park, Carrick-on-Suir. The route of the Greenway largely follows the original River Suir towpath. The “Greenway” will have a hard surface (minimum width 1.5 metres) with a grass margin on each side where space allows. The running /cycling surface will vary between bituminous macadam, grasscrete and reinforced grass depending on the particular location and environmental sensitivity. In some sections hard surfacing exists already and no alterations are proposed. In other sections existing hard surfacing is to be widened.
The development includes for the development of pedestrian/ bicycle friendly gates, signage, fencing, edge protection, minor bank repair, development of culverts where necessary, a small wooden bridge and all associated site works.
Funding has been provided in the sum of €1.9 million through the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, National Cycle Network. Tenders have recently been returned and are currently being assessed with an anticipated commencement date of April 2015.
River Suir Access Improvements at Inch Field and Sean Healy Park
Tipperary County Council is a partner on an INTERREG IVB project entitled Green & Blue Futures – The Social Economy and the Management of Green Infrastructure. Under the auspices of that project an assessment of a 56-kilometre stretch of the River Suir was undertaken in 2013 commencing at Cahir and ending at Carrick-on-Suir.
Through consultation with groups and individuals who currently access and use the river for lifestyle and recreation purposes a database of the existing access and egress points was built up. In total 41 existing access points were surveyed and 12 of these at strategic locations were identified for improvement on existing access arrangements. In January 2014 funding of €16,974 was secured under ‘Green and Blue Futures’ and a consultant was employed to prepare detailed designs for improved river access at 4 priority locations. The design process involved continued consultation with the local stakeholders.
Funding was then secured under the ‘Sportnation’ Initiative from DTTA S and IPB Insurances in the sum of €58,824 and when combined with funding allocated by Tipperary County Council provided for the development of two new river access points at Inch Field in Cahir and Sean Healy Park in Carrick-on-Suir at a total cost of €117,192. A works contractor was employed following an open tendering public procurement process and works commenced in early September at both locations and concluded by the end of October 2014. This resulted in the provision by Tipperary County Council of improved river access facilities at Inch Field, Cahir and Sean Healy Park, Carrick on Suir.
The provision of improved river access points will facilitate and encourage greater involvement in and along the river and will benefit those groups and individuals involved in activities such as canoeing, kayaking, rowing, fishing, swimming (Triathlon) and river rescue. The potential has also been identified to establish a canoe/kayak trail along the River Suir between the main towns of Cahir, Clonmel and Carrick on Suir. The National Trails Office and Canoeing Ireland were requested to carry out an assessment of the River Suir for suitability to develop a canoe/kayak trail and their report was very positive. The Inch Field river access point will be the starting point of the proposed trail and Sean Healy Park access point will be the end point.
In 2015 a cycle path ‘Greenway’ from Clonmel to Carrick-on-Suir will be developed along an old river towpath. Tipperary County Council plans to improve the access at a further 10 locations and it is envisaged that this will result in a ‘Blueway’ on the River Suir. As such the River Suir can become a major regional destination for recreation and adventure activities.
Kerry Group, Global Technology and Innovation centre, Naas:
Kerry Group are investing e136m in its new innovation nerve centre in Naas, Co Kildare. This will become the epicentre of the Kerry Group’s R&D and will be a facility for new product development and research into sports, diet, infant and elderly nutrition. Building work is expected to be complete by the end of the year. The company currently employs 400 staff which will increase to 900 when the new facility is built. Chief executive Stan McCarthy said “We pay very close attention to the Irish campus and the start-up companies landscape. We have the route to market what they require, both here and around the world.”
Market Square, Naas:
Permission granted and works to commence on an improved public transport facility that enhances the public realm and streetscape to encourage sustainable travel by accommodating the needs of bus users, pedestrians, cyclists, loading, taxi and parking bay activity.
R448 Naas – Kilcullen Road (Naas inner relief road to Pipershill):
Work is to commence on provide a new pedestrian and cycle links along this route, upgrading the existing vehicular road.
R407 Sallins Road roundabout Upgrade scheme:
There will be on upgrading to this roundabout in to increase capacity and enhance pedestrian and cycling facilities and safety.
€5m Whiskey Distillery and Visitors Centre in Lahardaun, Ballina. The new visitors centre is to go into construction this year and will take an estimated seven months to complete. It is expected to attract 40,000 visitors a year which will in turn create opportunities for surrounding businesses. The project will involve the renovation of several vacant buildings including a stone granary from the 1800’s. Taoiseach Enda Kenny said of the project “Broader economic recovery will be driven by small businesses creating high quality local jobs, I’m delighted that the announcement by Nephin Whiskey Company was made possible with the assistance of the Mayo Local Enterprise Office and with the support of the local community.”
€3m Breaffy Sewerage Scheme which will connect households in the Breaffy area to Castlebar town’s main sewerage scheme. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated plans will get moving shortly. “In the coming months, Mayo County Council in partnership with Irish Water will carry out the survey and design of the scheme and land acquisition. The planning process will then move to tendering the mechanical and electrical elements of the work. The works will be carried out on a phased basis, commencing with Zone 1 in the first quarter of 2015, a major first step in terms of delivering an improved water supply for the people of the locality.”
The Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, TD, announced the next two years will see the construction of seven new primary schools. Of the developments the minister said “My Department is predicting a continuing increase in primary school pupils up until at least 2019 in parts of the country”.
“To meet the continuing growing population of our primary school going children, we will have to establish seven new primary schools as well as extending a number of existing schools.”
Four will be opened in 2015 with the other three opening in 2016. The schools are being located in the areas with the highest rate of primary school going children. These include Cork, Dublin, Galway and Wicklow. There will be one school in Cork, four in Dublin, one in Galway and one in Wicklow. The estimated cost of the new schools will be in the region of €24m which will result in the state supporting 240 direct jobs and 48 indirect jobs. Once the seven schools are up and running they will cater for almost 3,000 students. These seven new schools will be in addition to 20 new primary schools that have opened since 2011.
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