The Irish Mid West Region’s location on the western periphery of Europe could result in the Region becoming a strategic freight logistics hub with direct connections to some of the world’s global logistics hubs.
That is according to the Mid West Regional Authority (MWRA) and the Irish Exporters Association (IEA), whose representatives met with international freight logistics experts in London this week to promote the Mid-West Region as a strategically located and sustainable freight logistics hub.
Through its participation in the EU co-funded Weastflows project, the MWRA chaired the meeting in London to discuss methods to promote the major North West European freight Gateways in terms of their connectivity to other European Gateways and onwards to the major global logistics hubs in the United States and Asia.
“The importance of an effective and well-managed Gateway for freight movements cannot be overstated for a peripheral European region, such as the Mid-West,” explained Liam Conneally, Director of the MWRA.
He said: “The Limerick-Shannon Gateway is at the heart of the Region and is an important contributor to the economic development of the Mid-West. Ireland’s exports continue to rise in 2012, despite the challenges faced by our key export markets, and our exporters rely on an efficient transport system to move their products within the North West Europe area and beyond. Furthermore, if Ireland is to meet its commitments in terms of reducing CO2 emissions, the region needs to learn the best methods for encouraging modal shifts from road to more sustainable forms of freight transport.”
“The Weastflows project is seeking to improve and enhance freight logistics in North West Europe on a West-East axis. The project brings together experts from all sectors of the freight industry to work towards connecting and improving sustainable supply chains for the movement of freight. During the recent meeting in the UK, the MWRA promoted the Limerick-Shannon Gateway, which as the most western Gateway in the project has a key location for freight movements,” Mr. Conneally added.
Linda Newport, EU Projects Officer with MWRA explained that the benefits for the Mid-West Region in participating in the Weastflows project include an opportunity to improve the connectivity from the Region to the major North West Europe transport corridors, as well as an opportunity to test out the latest in innovative approaches to freight transportation via participation in pilot projects.
She continued: “The Mid-West Region is strategically located on the West Coast of Ireland and is an important logistics hub in Ireland with the Shannon Estuary and Shannon International Airport. The Limerick-Shannon Gateway is at the heart of the region and is an important contributor to the economic development of the region. Through our participation in the Weastflows project, the MWRA will work with the Irish Exporters Association and other partners to establish the Limerick-Shannon Gateway as a Sustainable Gateway and improve links with the Seine Gateway, the Liverpool-Manchester Gateway and the London-Thames Gateway, among others. It is anticipated that the results of the project will feed into the regional planning processes.”
Howard Knott, Transport and Logistics Director at the Irish Exporters Association (IEA), and the Association’s representative on the Weastflows Steering Group, commented: “The Mid and South West Regions are becoming increasingly important in Ireland’s drive out of economic recession through export growth. Firms in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare products and agribusiness all have enormous potential to grow their activities in the region. A crucial factor in this endeavour is the development of world-class Freight Transport and Logistics services supporting these firms across the whole spectrum of Road, Rail, Sea and Air transport.”
“The developing co-operation with the Weastflows partners enables us to bring other experience to Irish issues while also addressing problems in Europe that make the Irish Export Supply Chain sub-optimal,” concluded Mr. Knott.
Weastflows is a 4-year project and is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Interreg IVB North West Europe Programme.
Project partners include the MWRA, Irish Exporters Association (Ireland), Institute for Sustainability, Liverpool John Moore University, Portsmouth Port, South East Scotland Transport Partnership (UK), CRITT Transport and Logistics, Communication and Tracking Services, IDIT, University of Lille, CTS Le Harve, Intermodality, TTPNF, Urban Regional Authority for Le Harve and Seine Estuary, Logistique Seine Normandy (France), Verband Region Rhein Neckar, University of Duisburg (Germany), Tudor Institute (Luxembourg), and Centre for Quantitative Methods, Mobycon, InforIT, BOM – Eindhoven Region, BBZOB – Eindhoven Region (The Netherlands).
Further information on the Weastflows project is available from www.mwra.ie or www.weastflows.eu