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Why Ireland's National Development Plan is doomed to fail

This first appeared on RTÉ Brainstorm at the link here.

Opinion: the Ireland 2040 plan seeks balanced development throughout the country, but that's something which has historically proved elusive and stymies long term national growth

For most of humanity, humans have predominantly worked the land and lived a rural lifestyle. Two centuries ago, only three per cent of the world population lived in urban areas. The past 65 years has brought unprecedented urban growth. The urban population was 746 million in 1950 and it is now 3.9 billion. We are in the age of mega cities and Tokyo is the world’s largest with a population of 38 million in an area of just 14000km2.

In comparison, the greater Dublin area has a population of nearly 2 million in a space of about 10,130 km2. In Ireland, 60 percent of the population live in urban areas and this is expected to reach 75 percent by 2050. The Irish population is also expected to grow by more than one million between now and 2050. That is a lot of population displacement.

Currently, the Irish government is preparing for the future through the National Development Plan (NDP) called Ireland 2040. One of the key elements of the plan is how to plan for the significant population changes that will occur and they envisage that "in terms of overall population and employment growth and new housing provision, the five cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford will be targeted to accommodate 50 percent of overall national growth between them, with Ireland’s range of large and smaller towns, villages and rural areas accommodating the other 50 percent, within a better national infrastructure grid in terms of mobility, communications, energy systems and essential public and community services and facilities".

Essentially, the current drafted plan is attempting to have a more balance of growth throughout the island, address rural decline and to curb the current pattern of lagging regional growth by ensuring provincial cities can act as a counter-balance to Dublin.

In Cork, a target has been set and the success of the Ireland 2040 plan will depend on Cork acting as a c