A proposed Europe-China trading hub outside Athlone will create thousands of jobs for the entire Midlands region and will be an enormous boost for the area, according to Laois-Offaly Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen. Deputy Cowen welcomed the decision by An Bord Pleanála to approve the project, which was progressed to an advanced stage under the previous Government.
“The €175 million development is now one step closer to becoming a reality, providing the massive jobs boost that the Midlands region needs,” said Deputy Cowen.
“It is estimated that 1,200 jobs will be created during the construction phase and 1,500 jobs when the development is completed. But it is not just about the direct job creation, it is also about creating a strong reputation as a successful international trading hub. This will lead to further foreign direct investment and further job creation in the Midlands into the future.
“The crucial thing now is that this Government takes a strong interest in this development so that it can progress quickly. The project had reached an advanced stage under the previous Government, which played an active role in engaging with the promoters, the investors and the authorities to secure its future. However it has been stalled now for over a year. While it is a great relief that planning permission has now been granted, the development will need active political support to make it a reality.
“I am urging the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs to prioritise this project and to immediately engage with the all of the relevant stake holders to ensure its progression. People in the Midlands have heard enough talk from this Government about creating jobs, but they have seen very little action. This development will mean real jobs for people in Offaly, Laois, Westmeath and Longford and it is crucial that it gets all the support it needs to make it happen.”