Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, today called on the Government to deliver an ambitious investment strategy under the National Planning Framework (NPF) and not to backtrack in the face of mounting local political pressures.
The call comes as the Cabinet met today to discuss a document that will set out Ireland’s critical infrastructure and capital investment plans until 2040. Ibec is concerned that the NPF is in danger of becoming a political football in advance of the next general election.
Ibec believes the NPF draft plan, which was based on population growth of 1 million by 2040, underestimates a likely population increase of circa 2 million, and so requires a more ambitious strategy.
The final NPF should also address the issue of the ‘city desert’ that could arise as the draft proposal did not identify any designated urban centres north of the Galway-Dublin line. The Midlands region and the North West each should have a designated urban centre.
Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Fergal O’Brien, said getting the NPF process right is essential for the long-term health of the economy and for the country’s ability to sustain economic and population growth over a period of decades.
“The original draft NPF was not ambitious enough in planning for the future and this lack of ambition could undermine the ultimate success of the process. So it is vital that there is no backtracking now on the vision of a strong urban and regional based development plan that clearly identifies a small number of designated growth centres. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the National Spatial Strategy which identified too many growth centres in a ‘one for everyone in the audience’ approach.
“Business is concerned that local political pressures will unravel prioritisation and lead to a watered down and scattergun approach that does not deliver the long-term structural change that Ireland requires.
“We would like to see a National Planning Framework that adopts an evidence-based approach to create urban centres of scale that are capable of attracting investment and mobile talent.”