Ireland: Crisis fear as extra 800,000 to crowd capital : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Crisis fear as extra 800,000 to crowd capital

MORE than 2.4m people will live in a giant urban sprawl along the east coast within 20 years, government planning experts predict.

The overall population will soar by one million, reaching between 4.6m and 4.8m, and at least half of those will live in the greater Dublin area.

This would put massive new pressures on housing, commuting, transport and the environment in the region.

Unless steps are taken now to spread growth and development around the country, an extra 800,000 people - 80pc of the population increase - will be living and working in an area stretching from Louth to Wicklow.

Boosted by migration, the arrival of refugees and natural growth, the numbers living in the Dublin region will mushroom by 40,000 per annum over the next five years alone.

The startling predictions are highlighted in a government report which warns that unless a national strategy is designed to successfully spread the growth to other regions, Dublin will have to take "the lion's share" of the larger population.

The mushrooming of population in the Dublin region would also have serious consequences for other parts of the country.

The midlands would be likely to suffer a continued drop in population while rural areas generally would lose their young people to the capital.

But Department of Environment experts predict that by switching just 8pc of the projected job growth from the Dublin region to other parts of the country, it would have more beneficial effects.

The southwest, under these conditions, would experience a population growth of 250,000, the midwest 126,000 and the midlands, instead of losing people, would grow by 54,000.

The report, drawn up by department principal officer Finian Matthews, and presented at the National Housing Conference in Galway yesterday, suggests there would be strong growth in other main cities.

Cork would get an extra 75,000 people, Galway 23,000, Limerick another 69,000 and Waterford over 11,000.

But even if the national spatial strategy achieved its objective of spreading growth outside the east, the greater Dublin area, which includes parts of Wicklow, Kildare and Meath, would still see its population rising by 500,000 to about 1.9m because of the social and economic momentum.

Mr Matthews said Dublin would still need to maintain and enhance its own "critical mass" of population, labour supply and services if it was to remain competitive in the global economy.

The Government is now set to begin an intense period of consultation with the social partners and regional and local interests.

A new national strategy is then expected to be published before the end of the year.

Treacy Hogan in Galway

-- Martin Thompson (, April 26, 2001

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