Project Ireland 2040 is the government’s long-term overarching strategy to make Ireland a better country for all of us. Project Ireland 2040 is about doing things differently. We have changed how we invest in public infrastructure in Ireland, moving away from the approach of the past which saw public investment spread too thinly and investment decisions which didn’t align with a clearly thought out and defined strategy.
By 2040 there will be roughly an extra one million people living in our country. This population growth will require hundreds of thousands of new jobs and new homes. Since its launch, Project Ireland 2040 has been enhancing regional connectivity and competitiveness, improving environmental sustainability and building a fairer, more equal Ireland for everyone. You can find more detail in these documents.
Project Ireland 2040 is underpinned by a shared set of goals or National Strategic Outcomes (NSOs) for every community across the country.
Carefully managing the sustainable growth of compact cities, towns and villages will add value and create more attractive places in which people can live and work. All our urban settlements contain many potential development areas, centrally located and frequently publicly owned, that are suitable and capable of re-use to provide housing, jobs, amenities and services, but which need a streamlined and co-ordinated approach to their development, with investment in enabling infrastructure and supporting amenities, to realise their potential.
Activating these strategic areas and achieving effective density and consolidation, rather than more sprawl of urban development, is underway. Aiding this endeavour, the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) of €2bn has been established to support the compact growth and sustainable development of Ireland’s five cities and other large urban centres.
A co-priority is to enhance accessibility between key urban centres of population and their regions. This means ensuring that all regions and urban areas in the country have a high degree of accessibility to Dublin, as well as to each other. Not every route has to look east and so accessibility and connectivity between places like Cork and Limerick, to give one example, and through the Atlantic Economic Corridor to Galway as well as access to the North-West is essential.
Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities Rural areas play a key role in defining our identity, in driving our economy and our high quality environment and must be a major part of our country’s strategic development to 2040. In addition to the natural resource and food sector potential as traditional pillars of the rural economy, improved connectivity, broadband and rural economic development opportunities offer the potential to ensure our countryside remains and strengthens as a living and working community.
The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund of €1 billion has been established to invest in rural renewal to allow towns, villages and outlying rural areas to grow sustainably.
In line with Ireland’s Climate Change mitigation plan, we need to progressively electrify our mobility systems moving away from polluting and carbon intensive propulsion systems to new technologies such as electric vehicles and introduction of electric and hybrid traction systems for public transport fleets, such that by 2040 our cities and towns will enjoy a cleaner, quieter environment free of combustion engine driven transport systems.
This can be achieved by building regional economic drivers and by supporting opportunities to diversify and strengthen the rural economy, to leverage the potential of places. Delivering this outcome will require the coordination of growth and place making with investment in world class infrastructure, including digital connectivity, and in skills and talent to support economic competiveness and enterprise growth. The €500m Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund will drive collaboration between the research, education and enterprise sectors.
This is crucial for overall international competitiveness and addressing opportunities and challenges from Brexit through investment in our ports and airports in line with sectoral priorities already defined through National Ports Policy and National Aviation Policy and signature projects such as the second runway for Dublin Airport and the Port of Cork - Ringaskiddy Redevelopment.
Cultural heritage is a key contributor to the sustainability of cities, towns, villages and rural areas. The ambition outlined in the Creative Ireland Programme is being pursued and supported with targeted investment. There is also investment through the Sport Capital Programme. In this way, we will ensure that our cities, towns and villages are attractive and can offer a good quality of life.
Investment is underway delivering well-designed public realm including public spaces, parks and streets, as well as recreational infrastructure. It also includes amenities in rural areas, such as national and forest parks, activity-based tourism and trails such as Greenways, Blueways and Peatways. This is linked to and must integrate with our built, cultural and natural heritage, which has intrinsic value in defining the character of urban and rural areas and adding to their attractiveness and sense of place.
The National Climate Policy Position establishes the national objective of achieving transition to a competitive, low carbon, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. This objective will shape investment choices over the coming decades in line with the National Mitigation Plan and the National Adaptation Framework.
New energy systems and transmission grids will be necessary for a more distributed, renewables-focused energy generation system, harnessing both the considerable on-shore and off-shore potential from energy sources such as wind, wave and solar and connecting the richest sources of that energy to the major sources of demand.
A €500m Climate Action Fund will bring further investment by public and private bodies, with a strong focus on the transport sector. There will also be further investment in flood relief schemes to minimise the impact of river and coastal flooding.
Ireland has abundant natural and environmental resources such as our water sources that are critical to our environmental and economic wellbeing into the future. Conserving and enhancing the quality of these resources will also become more important in a crowded and competitive world as well as our capacity to create beneficial uses from products previously considered as waste, creating circular economic benefits.
Access to a range of quality education and health services, relative to the scale of a region, city, town, neighbourhood or community is a defining characteristic of attractive, successful and competitive places. Compact, smart growth in urban areas and strong and stable rural communities will enable the enhanced and effective provision of a range of accessible services.