Engineers Ireland welcome boost to infrastructure and housing investment, but raise concerns for edu

Engineers Ireland welcome boost to infrastructure and housing investment, but raise concerns for education and environment

09 October 2018 at 16:16
  • Representative body for engineers welcomes increased capital investment
  • Housing supply must continue to ramp up while achieving quality standards
  • Funding for higher education is underwhelming as country faces skills shortages
  • Transition to a low-carbon society and economy must underpin all investment
The increase of €1.4 billion in capital investment to €7.3 billion in Budget 2019 has been welcomed by Engineers Ireland as helping to overcome deficits in housing, water, transport and other sectors. However, the representative body for engineers, whose membership represents the full spectrum of the engineering profession, also raised concerns regarding higher education funding and climate action.
Caroline Spillane, Director General, Engineers Ireland said: “The increase in capital investment to €7.3 billion is very welcome and will help us to overcome deficits in housing, water, transport and other sectors. This level of capital spending represents 3.5% Modified Gross National Income (GNI*) and must continue to increase to 4% GNI* in the coming years if we are to deliver on the critical projects contained within Project Ireland 2040.”
Reform in infrastructure policy, planning and delivery would help to achieve integrated outcomes and a stronger return on this investment. We repeat our call for a single infrastructure authority to develop a long-term vision and strategy, identify priority projects and explore innovative funding,” Ms Spillane continued.
Engineers Ireland has highlighted housing as a key concern. Peter Quinn, President of Engineers Ireland, said: “Our engineer members have clearly told us that the housing system is unable to meet demand and requires immediate investment. Today’s announcement that spending on social housing, will increase to €1.25 billion should help raise living standards more equitably and meet the needs of a growing society.”
Mr Quinn continued: “Housing supply must continue to increase, and the emphasis should be on new developments and renovations, yielding high-quality homes. The current housing crisis must not lead to any dilution of building regulations. Strong standards are required for safe, energy-efficient, accessible and future-proofed homes.”
The organisation raised concerns regarding higher education spending. Ms Spillane said: “Engineers Ireland supports the Government’s commitment to investing in strategic education and training, however, core funding per student at higher level has decreased detrimentally in the recent period. Today’s announcement of €300 million additional funding spread over the years up to 2024 is quite underwhelming.”
Ms Spillane commented: “Our engineering and other graduates are vital to achieving a knowledge-based, sustainable future for Ireland and will be crucial for the delivery of Project Ireland 2040. However, in some institutions, laboratory equipment and facilities have become almost obsolete. Not being able to expose students to experiments using world-class equipment hampers the ability of our higher education institutions to be considered attractive to students and globally competitive.”
Mr Quinn concluded on the importance of climate action: “The transition from a high-carbon, fuel import economy to one that is low-carbon and sustainable will require leadership and long-term planning to develop resilient and smart infrastructure and technologies. Climate action must underpin all investment decision, using long-term modelling and evidence-based solutions, while engaging communities and the general public on the benefits of each development.”
Notes to Editor
  • Engineers Ireland is the professional body for engineers across the island of Ireland. The organisation focuses on the promotion and development of all disciplines of engineering, working collaboratively with industry, educational institutions, state bodies and the public service.
  • Engineers Ireland’s Budget 2019 submission highlighted five priorities: (i) Implement Project Ireland 2040 investment commitments, (ii) Reform infrastructure policy, planning and delivery, (iii) Increase the supply of high-quality, connected housing, (iv) Build up safe and secure water and flooding systems, and (v) Incentivise professional skills and experience in STEM. It is available here.
  • Engineers Ireland recently published ‘The State of Ireland 2018: A Review of Infrastructure in Ireland’. This report identifies priority infrastructure projects, focusing on water, wastewater and flooding. It is available here.