Cork city and county are at risk of losing out on attracting major foreign companies to invest in the region because proper facilities are not there for them.
That’s the warning coming from the Chamber of Commerce and one of the county’s best known developers.
They told a special meeting of Cork County Council’s strategic planning policy committee that it is imperative something is done now to address the deficit of suitable buildings, landbanks and waster water treatment systems which can cope with industrial output — vital pieces of infrastructure needed to attract such companies.
Developer Michael O’Flynn said the “availability of suitable sites in the county for foreign direct investment is getting to a frighteningly low level”.
Jack Sheehan, a member of the chamber’s transport and infrastructure committee, who also sits on the council committee, called on the local authority and Irish Water to advance planning for treatment plants to ensure potential additional capacity for the treatment of industrial wastewater, particularly for the strategic employment zones and areas zoned for industry.
“In particular at the sites at Rossmore, Carrigtowhill — near the former Amgen site — and at Shanbally, near Ringaskiddy, where the council are currently planning to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities, it’s important that these sites and their associated outfalls have adequate planned space and capacity to accommodate their future expansion to cater for future industry,” Mr Sheehan said
He said the chamber is concerned that the current plans for these treatment facilities ensure there is such planned capacity for the treatment of future industrial waste volumes, and the facilities are not focused only on providing treatment of domestic wastewater,” Mr Sheehan said.
Chamber chief executive Conor Healy said not addressing such issues now would be “a missed opportunity and will place Cork at a competitive disadvantage if the current plans for these treatment facilities just focus on domestic requirements and do not take into consideration the needs of large-scale inward investors”.
Mr O’Flynn said during the boom nearly all available suitable spaces for major companies had been taken up and there was “little or no space left which is suitable”.
His company has worked on sites for commercial/industrial sectors for the past 30 years, most notably in Eastgate, near Carrigtowhill, and Ballincollig.
“We have to create new space and advanced buildings. In the past what we had has served Cork very well. But there are now very few buildings left of the quality that FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) wants,” the developer said.
He said Dublin, by contrast, was much better positioned to capitalise on attracting major foreign companies and Cork needs to do something if its to get its share.
Mr O’Flynn also criticised the council’s plans to create further major housing along the Cobh-Midleton railway line saying they shouldn’t “put all their eggs in one basket”.
The council recently announced plans to build 5,500 houses at Water Rock, near Midleton and Carrigtwohill.
He said the commuter corridor hadn’t produced an increase in population of anything like what had been envisaged during the boom years and it was clear people wanted to live elsewhere.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved