Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford James Browne has warned that rural communities in Wexford will suffer under the Government’s latest national development plan.

The ‘Ireland 2040’ plan was published last month by Minister for Housing Simon Coveney and sets out the key development priorities for the Government over the next 23 years.

Deputy Browne said, “This latest development plan unveiled by the Government is underwhelming. There is a disproportionate focus on encouraging economic development in our major cities while areas such as Wexford miss-out. This is a short-sighted decision as the infrastructure in the cities is already creaking under the pressure of continued population growth. Sky high rents are also putting enormous strain on people’s incomes in these areas.

“The Government should have used this new plan as a way for incentivising development in small towns, villages and rural communities in Wexford. Encouraging people to live in these communities will relieve the pressure on our cities and will also inject a new lease of life into our towns and villages. We need a plan to reinvigorate rural communities in Wexford, but unfortunately the proposals put forward by Minister Coveney falls well short of this.

“I’m particularly concerned by the fact that Waterford City is the only area in the entire south-east which has been earmarked in this development plan. I fear that towns such as Wexford, Enniscorthy, Gorey and New Ross could suffer as a result of this decision. Government agencies will now be focusing on developing Waterford City, which will ultimately end up taking resources away from Wexford.

“We need to see a rebalancing of the focus and budgets of the IDA and Enterprise Ireland with the view to giving greater priority to the entire south-east, and not just Waterford City. Marginalised and isolated communities must be at the heart of the Governments development plan. Fine Gael has been fixated on focusing investment in our cities over the last six years. This has been detrimental to small towns, villages and rural communities.

“I believe the plan must put in place a new mechanism to group a number of towns together with the aim of developing a common development strategy which is flexible in nature. For example Enniscorthy and Gorey, both of which are closer to Dublin than Waterford in terms of travel time, should be part of a development plan which links it in to economic activity in the Greater Dublin Area. There must also be an emphasis on developing infrastructure such as improved broadband and transport services.”