€116bn National Development Plan should 'provide confidence for the engineering sector' - but the setting-up of a single infrastructure authority is needed urgently

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Engineers Ireland has welcomed the publication of the government’s National Planning Framework (NPF), calling it “a critically important framework for the sustainable development of our country over the next generation”.

The organisation also strongly welcomed the joint publication of the €116 billion 10-year National Development Plan (NDP), saying “the alignment of spatial planning and investment is a vital step towards sustainable growth and effective investment”.

Engineers Ireland director general Caroline Spillane said: “Spatial planning and infrastructure delivery are important determinants of how we live, work and grow old. Yet planning in Ireland has frequently been inadequate for the country’s needs and based on a short-term and local view.

‘Planning that is evidence-based, long term and divorced from electoral cycle’


“Engineers Ireland has long advocated for planning that is evidence-based, long term and divorced from the electoral cycle. We therefore welcome the 20-year approach taken in Project Ireland 2040 which will be central to enabling prosperity, wellbeing and long-term growth.”

Engineers Ireland director general Caroline Spillane

In relation to the implementation of the NPF and NDP, Spillane welcomed the attention given to institutional reform: “A new National Regeneration and Development Agency will be the centre of expertise in strategic land development, an infrastructure projects steering group will develop cross-sectoral dialogue on infrastructure, and the construction sector working group will ensure dialogue between government and the construction sector.”

Need to go one step further and establish a single infrastructure authority’


However, she said that the government must go one step further and “establish a single infrastructure authority” to oversee the implementation of the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan projects across government departments and state agencies.

“This new authority should bring together the myriad of institutions and policy instruments which are currently involved in infrastructure and the new authority should be placed on a statutory footing. This approach would ensure the integrated and streamlined delivery of priority infrastructure projects. The authority would seek to build cross-party and cross-sectoral consensus, as well as public and media understanding and support.”

Prepare for population and jobs growth in urban centres


President of Engineers Ireland Dr Kieran Feighan said the organisation strongly supports planning for the concentration of growth in city regions and other urban areas: “In line with international trends, we must prepare for the majority of population and jobs growth to be focused in urban centres.

“This will mean putting in place strategic systems of infrastructure to support growth, such as public transport networks, water services and flood defences. The NPF is a critically important framework for the sustainable development of our country over the next generation.”

“We must also rebalance national development to ensure more widespread access to the economic recovery and to relieve the mounting pressure on Dublin. We welcome the steps taken towards developing critical mass along the Atlantic Economic Corridor (Waterford, Cork, Limerick/Shannon, Galway, Sligo and Letterkenny/Derry), which can act as a counterbalance to Dublin in terms of attracting population, employment and investment.

“We are pleased the NDP will channel investment into improving the attractiveness and connectivity of this corridor. At the same time, it is important to recognise the capital city as the national economic driver and it must continue to develop, prosper and compete as an internationally significant city.”

Many projects identified by expert engineers as vital pieces of infrastructure


Engineers Ireland also welcomed the 10-year pipeline of projects contained in the €116 billion NDP. They said that many of these projects have been identified by expert engineers as vital pieces of infrastructure in Engineers Ireland’s annual State of Ireland reports, including:
• National Broadband Plan
• Flood risk management
• Metro Link, DART expansion and BusConnects
• M20 Cork to Limerick
• Airports and ports
• Renewables and grid interconnection
• Retrofitting for energy efficiency
• Water and wastewater treatment and networks

The full pipeline of projects, they said, should inspire confidence in the engineering sector in the years ahead.

“Every objective contained in these plans will require the engineering community to play a significant role,” Dr Feighan added. “Engineers will be crucial in delivering compact and smart growth, enhanced regional accessibility, high-quality international connectivity, a strong digital economy, transition to a low carbon and resilient society and the sustainable management of water and other resources. Now, more than ever, we need to inspire more young people to study engineering.”

Engineers Ireland president Dr Kieran Feighan

In an effort to demystify the subject of engineering, Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme – funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme Call – encourages primary and post-primary students to explore the world of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), while promoting engineering as a study and career choice. Engineers Week, Engineers Ireland’s annual festival of engineering, takes place nationwide from February 24, until March 2, 2018.

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Engineers Ireland has welcomed the publication of the government's National Planning Framework (NPF), calling it “a critically important framework for the sustainable development of our country over the next generation”. The organisation also strongly welcomed the joint publication of the €116 billion 10-year National Development Plan (NDP), saying “the alignment...