Representatives from the transport and business sectors across Limerick and Clare are joining forces in an effort to establish the Limerick-Shannon Gateway as a strategic freight logistics hub with direct connections to some of the world’s global logistics hubs.
The new regional freight transport forum is the result of the EU co-funded Weast?ows INTERREG IVB EU Project which aims to improve and enhance freight logistics in North West Europe, as well as encourage a move from an overreliance on road haulage to the more sustainable modes of rail, short-sea shipping and river transportation.
Limerick City & County Council, one of the 22 partners in the EU project, and Limerick and Shannon Chambers of Commerce hosted two sessions in The Strand Hotel in Limerick and Westpark, Shannon.
The events saw the attending freight & logistics providers, four infrastructure providers, public sector agencies and export generators sign up to the establishment of a new regional freight forum.
The forum, the Secretariat of which will be jointly provided by Limerick Chamber of Commerce and Shannon Chamber of Commerce, is the first of its kind to be established in Ireland and is expected to be in place before the end of 2014.
“Besides promoting the establishment of the Limerick-Shannon Gateway as a Sustainable Gateway for freight transport, the new forum will also seek to implement efficiencies within the Region’s transport sector, explained Liam Conneally, Senior Planner, Limerick City & County Council.
He added: “Considering its location on the western periphery of Europe and the large number of exporting operations based here, it is widely agreed that the Limerick-Shannon Gateway is a key location for freight movements. Firms in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, healthcare products and agribusiness all have enormous potential to grow their activities throughout this region of Ireland. 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.”
Commenting on the development of the new forum, Liam Conneally, Senior Planner, Limerick City & County Council stated: “This is the first forum of its kind to be established in Ireland and it is particularly notable that it has received widespread support from the key transport, export and business stakeholders across the region. The forum will provide the Limerick-Shannon Gateway with a single voice for the promotion of the freight and logistics sector. This will make the Gateway more attractive for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) due to cross-industry collaboration for greater supply chain optimisation, building on one of our core competences in supply chain design and development.”
Mr. Conneally said the new freight forum will be supplemented by two new strategies to set the context for its work over the medium term.
“These strategies include the roll out of a new ‘Sustainable Freight Gateway’ brand which seeks to gain cross-sectoral commitment to change and action to drive greater efficiencies across the industry, and to address the greenhouse gas emission targets by 2020, in a more grassroots and holistic approach,” he said.
Eoin Gavin, President of the Irish Road Haulage Association added: “The region is a natural freight gateway and a prime location between the Americas and Europe, linking by sea air and road. The future of sustainable transport is rests with all the modes collaborating together to move goods from A-to-B as efficiently as possible.
“The Limerick Shannon Gateway will play a major part in future global trade. The next move is to bring all industry business and transporters and together to further develop this sustainable gateway,” added Mr. Gavin.
Mr. Gavin described the Weastflows Gateway initiative as “innovative” and said it “takes a leadership position, providing integrated multi-modal supply chain services, for all industries in the region, and beyond. The focus is on both the physical movement of goods, and supporting services, in training, Information technology and R&D.”
John Carr, Irish Explorer Association (IEA) member and VP of Supply Chain Development with Raheen based Flextronics, described the Weastflows Gateway initiative as “innovative” and said it “takes a leadership position, providing integrated multi-modal supply chain services, for all industries in the region, and beyond. The focus is on both the physical movement of goods, and supporting services, in training, information technology and R&D.”
The Weastflows project concludes in June 2015 and comprises 22 European partners and 19 observers from countries including France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the UK and China.
Project partners include SERA, Limerick City and County Council, 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).
For more visit www.weastflows.eu