Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has called for investment in the North West to become a national priority.

The business group has highlighted the long-standing issue of lack of prioritisation of the region in national planning in its submission to the Draft National Planning Framework (NPF).

Addressing businesses in Donegal, Ibec North West Regional Director, Terry MacNamara said:  “The Draft NPF for the country does not provide any blueprint for the future development of the North West region. Ibec North West has raised this issue over recent days with elected representatives and directly with policy-makers and we hope our efforts will not be in vain. Action must be taken now and key priorities for development of the region must be implemented to allow the North West to prosper and grow. The city-less regions should not be deprived.

“The NPF must prioritise the two regional urban centres of Sligo and Letterkenny-Derry. Channelling growth to these two important urban centres would support targeted population growth and help achieve wider regional and national planning objectives.

“The North West has experienced a decline in its population since 2011. Population decline has consequences for the economic base, labour market and social infrastructure of the region. Much more needs to be done in this respect to moving development and growth to the North West in a sustainable direction.

“Prioritising access to the North West and enhancing connectivity within the region through the upgrading to motorway status of the N4 Sligo-Dublin and N17 Tuam-Sligo,  advancement of the A5, in addition to the improvement the N14 Letterkenny-Lifford and N15 Sligo-Letterkenny routes are vital to enable the region to realise its full potential. Putting in place the necessary infrastructure will allow the region to capitalise on the many advantages it has to offer including competitive employment and housing costs.

“The provision of essential infrastructure is central to the economic development of the North West and the achievement of more balanced regional development. The aim must be that over the period to 2040, each region should realise their potential for economic development and attain levels of connectivity and standards of living similar to the rest of the country. It’s time to invest in the North West and this must be reflected in any spatial development and capital investment plans for the country.”

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