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Aug. 6, 2017, 5:12 p.m.
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Samantha McCaughren

August 6 2017 6:00 PM

New research suggests that there is a "two-speed economy in Ireland", with construction projects concentrated in Dublin and the east coast, according to the Construction Industry Federation.

Construction Information Services (CIS) audited every public and private sector construction project in the State, with the exception of one-off housing. Based on the volume of new projects commencing construction, some 28pc are in Munster, 27pc are in Dublin, 24pc are in Leinster, 13pc are in Connaught and 8pc in Ulster (Republic of Ireland).
The report found that the overall volume of construction projects starting in the first half of 2017 remained almost static at 1,325 when compared to the same period in 2016 (1,317) for the Republic of Ireland. There had been a notable increase in new projects starts between 2015 and 2016 at 29pc.
The volume of planning applications granted permission continues to lag the corresponding period in 2016. The number of plans granted in the first half of 2017 is 2,672, which is down 10.4pc or 312 projects on the same period in 2016.
Agricultural projects have seen the largest decrease in volume with only 694 projects granted planning. Residential (excluding self-builds) recorded an increase in permissions of 48 projects over the first half of 2016, which amounts to 8,193 units.
"This data shows where construction activity is concentrated and how we are progressing towards the delivery of the €45bn outlined in the Government's Public Capital Programme and the 35,000 homes annual output our society requires," said CIF director general Tom Parlon.
"We've long stated that there are fundamental issues such as a lack of finance, procurement issues and infrastructure gaps that are preventing the efficient and timely delivery of critical construction projects." He said that the fact that new project commencements are static year on year is a concern in the face of the shortage of housing which is now an "economy threatening" infrastructure crisis.
The industry currently accounts for about 7pc of GDP well below the agreed sustainable level of 12pc. "Analysis by Construction Information Services should provide a clarion call for Government, local authority and industry to collaborate more effectively to deliver Ireland's construction requirements," he added.
The significant reductions in plans granted by value and volume pose a serious challenge to the civil engineering sector as several large projects near completion, he said.
The CIF analysis shows that there is only around €350m in the public capital programme for construction of infrastructure annually up to 2019. "This amount is paltry in the context of the scale of large infrastructure projects required to cope with Ireland's rapidly growing population and expanding economy."