Evidence to the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas

An Taisce welcomes the setting up of CEDRA as a valuable initiative to review the long-term vision for rural Ireland and the path needed to reach that vision. The goal of rural policy is to build a sustainable economy that does not damage the ecosystems on which we depend and provides a good quality of life with balanced development throughout the country. The National Spatial Strategy recommended that rural areas should develop jobs in the following sectors:

• Farmland - Agriculture and food;

• Marine and fresh water lakes and rivers – fishing, tourism, aquaculture;

• Scenic landscapes – tourism;

• Renewable energy;

• Enterprise and local services.

An Taisce supports these proposals but recognises that many problems have arisen in these areas since this policy was adopted a decade ago and these sectors have failed to deliver their potential at every level. It is now considered that a wider view needs to be taken. The development of rural Ireland cannot be focussed purely on economic development but must be supported in the best interest of human health and wellbeing, the maintenance of climate stability, the meeting of UN and other international, EU Directives and national commitments on biodiversity, and international conventions on Landscape and Cultural Heritage. A focus on these objectives will give different outcomes that are ultimately more lasting and more satisfying.

Recommendations: Currently the strength of this country lies in urban areas but this is likely to change as the impact of climate change and declining resources begins to erode the opportunities for current economic systems that depend on cheap energy and global trade. It is in Irish rural areas that our greatest assets will lie and there are major unrealised employment capacities here for

• Local low carbon energy for households and for national and trans-boundary grid.

• Increased food supply to local rural and urban areas.

• Outdoor recreation and tourism.

It is recommended that the Commission also refer to the document produced by the IEN on creating jobs by greening the economy.

Download the submission here.