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Coveney accused of stalling on Knock Strategic Development Zone

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PAST VISIT A Fianna Fáil delegation, led by Deputy Dara Calleary, TD, are pictured at Ireland West Airport Knock where they went to discuss the development of the airport several years ago.

Anton McNulty

MINISTER Simon Coveney has been accused of stalling and engaging in delaying tactics on plans to develop a Strategic Development Zone at Ireland West Airport Knock.
Two years ago, Mayo County Council submitted an application to the then Department of the Environment to develop a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) at the airport, but according to Mayo TD Dara Calleary, it is still waiting to hear back from the department.
Deputy Calleary accused the Government of not having its ‘head in the game’ when it comes to regional development, saying the lack of action over the SDZ at the airport was an example of that.
“Unfortunately this Government is continuing to drag its heels when it comes to strategic investment west of the Shannon. This is an application that has the potential to create jobs and bring new companies and industry to County Mayo. 
“Why the Government is delaying on the project is beyond me. In his reply to me, [Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government] Simon Coveney claims he is engaging ‘with the Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport in relation to this matter, including in relation to related issues concerning wider aviation and land use policy and landside development at airports in general’.
“This sounds like nothing more than a delaying tactic and it completely unacceptable,” said the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
Deputy Calleary accused Minister Coveney of focusing too much on cities and not enough on regional development. He claimed with the prospect of Brexit on the horizon, it has never been more important to invest in projects that will create sustainable jobs and support industry in the regions.
“Minister Coveney must stop stalling on this vital infrastructural opportunity. He needs to shift his focus away from the cities and start concentrating on revitalising rural areas, which have been left behind by his Government. This project has huge potential and is the shot in the arm that Mayo needs to regenerate the region,” he said.
The February meeting of Mayo County Council is to take place in Ireland West Airport Knock with local councillor John Caulfield is to table a motion to form a task force to create jobs at the airport.