For Written Answer on : 15/11/2023
Question Number(s): 64 Question Reference(s): 50223/23
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment the plans, if any, his Department has to implement the recommendations from the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce Report pertaining to his Department’s policy responsibilities; if similar recommendations are being considered for Cork and Bantry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I welcome the ambition set out by the independent Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce in their Final Report. Government has committed to examining the Taskforce’s Report in detail. Among its recommendations, the Taskforce proposed that my Department coordinate the Government response to their action plan. My officials have been engaging across Government and State Agencies on this with the intention to publish an implementation update by the end of the year. It should be noted, however, that several national policy developments recommended by the Taskforce have already been actioned by Government, including the establishment of the Maritime Area Regulatory Authority (MARA), the publication of a National Hydrogen Strategy and an Electricity Interconnection Policy, amongst others.
I particularly welcome the Taskforce’s proposal to develop an Industrial Strategy for Offshore Wind. My Department has established a dedicated Unit tasked with delivering on this objective recognising the vast potential the industry has for Ireland. My officials are leading on extensive consultations across Government and industry to develop the Strategy, and the intention is to publish a Strategic Roadmap in the first half of 2024. This Strategy will be an iterative piece of policy development which will, over time, capture many of the areas of industrial development that the Taskforce make recommendations on.
Enterprise development and sustainable local job creation across all regions is a key policy priority of this Government, and with that in mind, my Department last year launched nine Regional Enterprise Plans (REPs) to 2024 – including a plan for the South West, covering counties Cork and Kerry. The REPs are an integral part of Ireland’s enterprise policy, aimed at driving economic growth and sustaining better standards of living throughout Ireland. These are bottom-up plans, developed by regional stakeholders and are overseen by a Steering Committee comprised of regional stakeholders and chaired by a senior level private sector businessperson. My Department has secured €145m co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund to support initiatives aligned with with the REPs through the new Smart Regions Enterprise Innovation Scheme launched in October.
The REPs provide an effective forum for facilitating regional stakeholder collaboration and play a central role in advancing the economic development potential unique to each respective region. Recognising this, I recently wrote to the Chairs of all nine REPs on the regional economic development opportunities presented by offshore wind energy. I have asked each REP to continue using the unique REP structures to facilitate collaboration between ports, local authorities, industry and enterprise agencies alongside the Higher Education and Training Institutes in realising the opportunities presented by the development of offshore wind energy.
I understand that the South-West REP, which includes Co. Cork, is considering how that plan can be enhanced to deliver offshore wind actions for the Region and my Department continues to facilitate the South-West and all the REPs in responding to this significant opportunity.