Planners endorse value of regeneration reaching beyond the built environment
- Waterways offer substantial economic and recreational potential
- Low levels of afforestation relative to Europe highlight opportunity for economically viable alternate land use
Effective planning in the use of public resources for regeneration has to look beyond the built environment and activity centred on urban areas according to Irish Planning Institute (IPI) President Joe Corr speaking at the IPI’s Annual Planning Conference taking place in Carrick on Shannon today (Thursday, 4 April, 2019).
Mr. Corr was responding to a lively debate among mambers following presentations on the use of waterways and afforestation in Ireland
“Ireland has the capacity to develop world class waterway corridors which can be put to use to deliver economic prosperity, social and health benefits” according to John Boyle, Director of Waterways Ireland. The key to realising that potential, he said, requires engaging both public and private sector in a range of partnerships around capital investment and operational management including
· the development of waterways, infrastructure of the waterways and related properties including the canals, tow paths, boardwalks and lock houses.
· The development of programmes for the use of waterways; ‘Blueways’ for example – of which there are seven in place or in development at present – are estimated by Fáilte Ireland to have the potential to generate €150m from activity tourists, sustaining 6,900 jobs in the tourism industry
· Events, which attract up to 150,000 visitors to waterways annually.
Mr Boyle noted also that much of the value of waterways lies in their potential to energise rural areas for their recreational and tourism potential where there may be limited alternate options
Delegates also heard about the very significant potential of forestry as an alternate form of land use. Mr. Ciaran Fallon of Coillte noted that Ireland has just over 11.1% compared with an average of over three times that across Europe.
His comments were echoed by forestry consultant Trevor McHugh who noted that afforestation supports Carbon Sequestration and supports the effort to meet Ireland’s international climate action requirements. Irish forests already store 312 million tonnes of carbon now and have the capacity at present to absorb additional 3.6m tonnes of CO2 p.a.
Mr McHugh also highlighted the value of timber as a 21st century building material where engineered timber construction is increasingly capable of replace steel and concrete.