Support for an economic counterpoint to Dublin intensifies...
Businesses in Munster have voiced their strong support for the proposed M20 motorway linking Cork and Limerick.
According to a Red C survey commissioned by the Cork and Limerick Chambers of Commerce, 98% of respondents believe that the road would have a positive impact on the economic links between the two cities.
Some 97% of firms also predicted a reduction in traffic congestion and journey times.
Over 250 businesses from Ennis, Limerick Charleville, Mallow and Cork Chambers took part in the March survey, while Limerick and Cork Chambers have also commissioned Indecon Economic Consultants to look at the benefits of a motorway.
The chambers have argued that the long-discussed M20 would create an Atlantic corridor from Cork to Limerick and up to Galway that would help stimulate local economies and offer a counterpoint to the capital.
According to The Irish Times, Cork Chamber chief executive Conor Healy said the motorway was needed as a "natural complement to Dublin and as a fulcrum point for economic development all the way from Cork to Galway".
The estimated €1 billion project is not currently included in the Government’s capital spending plans, but Finance Minister Michael Noonan has recently stated that proposals were being examined for a public private partnership that would see tolls fund the road off the Government’s balance sheet.
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney said last month that the M20 was a "priority project once more".
Coveney said that a large-scale investment would not "be an easy thing to do", but that the Government was "looking at ways we can finance that sooner rather than later".
Coveney's comments came as a Construction Industry Federation (CIF) delegation claimed the motorway could be kick-started with an investment of just €5m.
CIF vice president Pat Lucey said:
"If there was €5m allocated for Cork to Limerick, you would get an enormous amount of planning done.”
CIF director general Tom Parlon added that the total €1bn cost would be covered by the resulting economic benefit inside of 18 months.
In February, the Ireland 2040 report highlighted how half of all our economic activity is generated in Dublin.