THE Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Minister for Jobs have all been called on to make the proposed Chinese Hub in Creggan, Athlone a priority.
Laois/Offaly Deputy Barry Cowen said the €175 million development which was given the green light by An Bord Pleanala “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.
He is calling on the Government 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.”
He said it is estimated that 1,200 jobs will be created during the construction phase and 1,500 jobs when the development is completed.
Meanwhile An Taisce has voiced its concerns over the development, stating that “the vague nature of the planning conditions attached to development and the lack of global consideration of sustainability by An Bord Pleanála” is a serious worry.
It also expressed doubt in relation to the location of the hub in terms of transport.
“While the planning appeals board has asked for coach services from Dublin Airport and Athlone town centre to be provided, the Board, in a serious omission, has not stated the minimum frequency. This is left to be resolved between Westmeath County Council and the developer. The clear risk is that the bus timetable will be unattractive and ultimately the service will become tokenistic.”
In national newspaper reports at the weekend, Birr Castle owner The Earl of Rosse indicated he was considering resigning from An Taisce over their objections to the Euro Chinese Trading Hub planned for Athlone.
“I believe a vibrant trading hub will bring in the visitors, jobs and revenue which we need to protect and preserve our heritage,” he said. “I am delighted that An Board Pleanala overruled the appeal.”
An Bord Pleanala gave the green light for the development in Creggan, and attached 37 conditions, mostly technical, to the planning decision.
Ray Byrne, President Midlands Gateway Chamber said, “The Europe China Trading Hub will bring a much needed injection into the national economy as well as the local economy of Athlone and the other gateway towns of Mullingar and Tullamore.”
He continued to say, “The Europe China Trading Hub will act as a gateway between China and buyers from Europe and the US, bringing 1.5 million visitors to Ireland every year which is fantastic news for the tourism and hospitality sector in the Midlands.”