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The West – Part of a Large Peripheral Region in Ireland - BMW. A peripheral / less developed region in Ireland. Main Counties in West. Galway Mayo Roscommon. Focus on West. 3 counties (13 in BMW). One quarter of Ireland’s population. (1,132,090 in 2006 census)

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the west part of a large peripheral region in ireland bmw

The West – Part of a Large Peripheral Region in Ireland - BMW

A peripheral / less developed region in Ireland

main counties in west

Main Counties in West

Galway Mayo Roscommon

focus on west
Focus on West
  • 3 counties (13 in BMW).
  • One quarter of Ireland’s population. (1,132,090 in 2006 census)
  • 48% of the land area of Ireland.
  • Rural areas with low population densities (25 – 30 per km/squared)
  • High dependence on primary activities.
  • Unemployment above the national average.
  • Underdeveloped transport infrastructure.
  • Low employment level in services.
  • Industrial development based on multinational company branch plants, employing many unskilled workers.
  • High levels of out migration (although trend reversed between 1996 and 2006).
  • Not as urbanised as GDA. (Galway is main urban centre).
  • West has good economic potential, unspoilt environment, little congestion, beautiful scenery (mountains, coastline).
  • Labour force = 25% of the national labour force.
  • Cool temperate oceanic climate.
  • Usually described as dull, wet and windy.
  • High relief creates wetter conditions than GDA, - Relief and Cyclonic rain.
  • Over 250 days of rainfall per annum.
  • North Atlantic Drift – Ice free
  • South westerly winds – increase temperatures.
  • Average temperatures similar to GDA – 5 – 14 degrees celcius.
  • Further inland away from the sea, more frost occurs. (Clones has twice as much frost (99 days) as Belmullet.)
  • Annual rainfall varies from 928mm in Clones to 1,150mm in Belmullet. (Due to relief and rain shadow effect)
  • Varied relief of mountains, lakes and lowlands.
  • Major rivers include the Shannon, Corrib and Moy.
  • Many of the rivers are small and flood each year with flood plains developing.
  • Several mountainous areas dominated by metamorphic rocks which were created during the Caledonian mountain building period – 400 million years ago.
  • Much of the lowlands are unsuitable for agriculture because they are poorly drained boglands or have thin soils.
  • Coastline is composed of headlands and sheltered bays due to the erosive power of the Atlantic.
  • Clew bay was created due to the rising sea levels submerging the drumlin landscape.
  • Varied and generally of poor quality compared to GDA.
  • Mainly peat and gley soils throughout the region while the midlands area has more fertile brown earth soils.
  • Heavy rainfall – leaching – hardpan – poorly drained – podzols.
  • Glacial deposition – Border Region has boulder clay soils and a drumlin landscape with several large lakes. (eg Lough Erne).
  • Connemara – glacial erosion has removed soil cover leaving lakes and shallow peat behind.
  • Many parts of the region have poor agricultural outputs and are more suited to forestry development.
  • Drainage basin of the river Shannon around Clonmacnoise has fertile alluvial soils but is often flooded.
  • Eskers running across the landscape provide well drained areas (Eiscir Riada)
primary activities in the west
Primary Activities in the West
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Fishing and aquaculture
  • Mineral Resources
agriculture 11
Agriculture (11)
  • The major primary economic activity despite many physical, social and economic disadvantages:
  • Many areas of poor infertile soils eg peat, gleys with harsh climate eg wind, rain, low temperatures.
  • High mountains eg Twelve Pins are over 300m high and there is often flooding and many lakes.
  • Glacial erosion in both uplands and lowlands.
  • Small farm sizes ( half the size of the national average) with low levels of mechanisation and small local markets.
  • Livestock farming is the dominant agricultural activity with 55% of the farmland used for pasture (grazing of beef and sheep) and a further 20% of farmland is considered rough grazing land (mountain slope, badly drained lowlands).
  • Dairy farming is mainly on the larger farms of the better drained lowland areas eg North-East Mayo.
  • Due to the poor soils and wet climate only 1% of the land is used for crop growing and outputs are low eg less than 3% of the national barley crop and less than 1% of the national wheat crop.
  • Farm incomes are very low and the whole region is regarded as a Disadvantaged Area and qualifies for the highest grants/subsidies from the Common Agricultural Policy (C.A.P.) of the E.U.
  • Direct payments from the E.U. make up nearly 70% of farm incomes and in 2006 farmers in this region received an average of €8,000 from the E.U.
  • Only 5% of the farms are considered economically viable (larger farms, high levels of mechanisation) and Rural Environmental Protection Schemes (REPS) also help farmers who ensure pollution free farms, proper waste disposal etc.
  • However, farming activities seem set to decline in the future. It is becoming a part time occupation. At present a survey suggests that up to 60% of farmers in the region have an off-farm job.
  • In Donegal, 46% of farmers are over 55 years of age.
  • Agricultural production is relatively low in the BMW and forestry is considered to be a more productive land use.
  • It is now viewed as a viable alternative to agriculture in many parts of the region.
  • Physical factors favour the growth of coniferous trees, especially the sitka spruce in this region:
    • Mild temperatures allow a long growing season each year.
    • Well distributed rainfall allows favourable growth.
    • Peat land and boulder clay allow the shallow root systems of the spruce to prosper.
  • Tree planting is generally organised by Coillte, a semi-state body and helped by:
  • Grants from the Irish government
  • E.U. grants.
  • The areas under forestry now exceed 30,000 hectares.
  • The Irish government and E.U. regard forestry as an alternative to agriculture, especially in areas of marginal land (profit margins are low), reducing the amount of farmland.
  • Trees are a renewable resource – ie they can be replanted
  • Improved infrastructure will encourage further development (timber processing plant Masonite, near Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim).
  • Linked to tourism – Lough Key Forest Park (Roscommon)
fishing and aquaculture
Fishing and aquaculture
  • Fish are a renewable, natural resource.
  • Fishing has been:
    • A source of food
    • A means of emploment
    • In this region for centuries due to the difficulties for agriculture (high mountains, poor soil, damp climate etc).
  • The region has great natural advantages for fishing:
    • Continetal shelf supplies fish food (plankton)
    • N.A.D. keeps the coast ice free and helps the development of favourable water temperatures.
    • Sheltered harbours eg Killary Harbour
Fishing employs aprx. 2,000 people in the west
  • The largest port is Rosaveal (Ros a Mhil)
  • Large ships with refrigerated sea water tanks may fish up to 200 miles off the coast.
  • Most of these use the ports in Donegal – Killybegs
  • Large vessels have added to the overfishing problem on the western seaboard severely depleting stocks like herring and cod
  • Clew Bay has a growing aquaculture industry – focusing on salmon ,sea trout, shellfish
  • Since the 1960’s there have been great changes in the fishing industry in this region helped by grants from the Irish government and aid from the Common Fisheries Policy of the E.U.
    • Fewer but larger boats
    • Greater emphasis on fish processing (part of the multiplier effect)
    • Over fishing (better equipment and nets) has caused decline in fish stocks.
    • New fishing quotas have reduced the amount of fish caught and restricted the number of days that fishing is allowed.
  • Aquaculture / fish farming is a major growth sector of the fishing industry.
  • The physical advantages include:
    • Sheltered bays e.g. Killary Harbour
    • Pollution free water
Grants from the E.U. have encouraged the growth of fish farming and the main species include:
    • Mussels at Killary Harbour (Inner Galway Bay)
    • Oysters at Clew Bay
    • Salmon at Killary Harbour; Clew Bay.
  • About 2,300 people are now employed in aquaculture in the region.
  • The rivers of the region (Moy, Corrib) and the lakes (Mask, Conn) are world famous for fishing especially salmon and trout.
  • Thousands of anglers are attracted to the region each year.
mineral resources
Mineral Resources
  • Minerals are a non-renewable resource.
  • Mining often brings employment to a region but the major mineral find in this area is natural gas in the offshore Corrib Field.
  • The highly technical development will mean few jobs.
  • The development of this gas field should bring great benefits to the region:
    • Gas deposits should last for about 20 years
    • Deposits estimated to be worth over 1 billion euro.
  • Problems over the siting of the gas terminal and the proposed natural gas pipelines have delayed development eg Rossport Five.
  • The natural gas should benefit the region:
    • Supply gas to the major towns of the area eg Castlebar, Claremorris and Tuam
    • The gas may be used to generate electricity in the region.
  • New energy supplies are needed to increase economic development in the region.
  • Located in the deep boglands of the midlands.
  • Before Kinsale Natural Gas came on stream in 1979, peat was Ireland’s most important energy resource.
  • The ESB generating capacity for peat was 250 megawatts in three stations.
  • Peat is supplied by Bord Na Mona to the peat-fired power stations run by the ESB in Lanesborough and Shannonbridge.
secondary economic activities
Secondary Economic Activities
  • Higher % employed in unskilled occupations in West than the national average.
  • Lower % employed in professional occupations.
  • Reliance on few industries such as food processing (dairy products, bacon) Castlebar, Co. Mayo, timber processing and textiles (clothing at Galway, woolens at Foxford (Mayo)).
  • The West lacks variety (diversity) in its manufacturing base.
  • The West region is not a favourable location for manufacturing
  • Industries are usually small scale (low productivity (70% of national average), labour intensive with less than 50 employees in most factories)
reasons for underdevelopment
Reasons for Underdevelopment.
  • Poor transport infrastructure.
  • Small urban population – small labour pool and market.
  • Peripheral location ( > transport costs)
  • Lack of power supplies capable of supporting energy intensive industry.
  • Outward migration of young, skilled people and the peripheral location discourages inward investment.
  • The small size of urban areas which means that infrastructure development is expensive eg telecommunications and availability of broadband.
attractions of west for investment
Attractions of West for Investment?
  • The main centres of industry are Galway, Castlebar, Sligo Galway is main urban centre with a variety of knowledge based industry, such as electronics, e.g. Medtronic (cmedical) and Boston Scientific (medical) Nortel (Telecommunications).
  • This is due to the location of NUI Galway which provides a skilled graduate labour force, direct transport network to the east coast by air, rail or road and the presence of serviced industrial estates for investors.
  • Irish government recognises importance of attracting industry to the West region and therefore offers grant assistance and tax incentives to new industries.
  • E.g. The Gaeltacht region in Co. Galway attracts the maximum level of grant assistance, averaging up to €14,000 per job. Udarás na Gaeltachta
  • Incentives offered by Industrial Development Authority (IDA) have helped manufacturing industry including:
    • Grants for equipment
    • Low corporation taxes
    • The building of ready-to-occupy factories – Advance Factories
  • Aid from the E.U. has brought modern, high-technology industries to Galway.
    • European Social Fund (ESF) – education / training
    • Structural funds (transport funding)
Many examples of job losses in the region in recent years, especially in Mayo and Roscommon, eg between 2000 and 2004 over 700 jobs were lost in the Ballina area of Mayo.

Establishment of growth centres at Castlebar, Ballina and Tuam under the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) will make the region more attractive by attracting modern, high-skilled industries to overcome the loss of jobs to low-cost labour economies. (Eastern Europe, India etc)

tertiary economic activities 5 service industries
Tertiary Economic Activities.(5)Service Industries
  • Communications
  • Education
  • Public Services
  • Tourism
The development of broadband communications is essential if new modern industry is to be attracted to the region.
  • Widely dispersed population and industrial location, commuting involves longer distances than average.
  • Fewer national primary roads in the region and other roads are of poor quality.
  • Public transport is underdeveloped with just 4% of the population using it to get to work compared to 11% nationally.
  • Greater reliance on car ownership.
  • Galway and Sligo are the main ports.
  • , Knock and Galway have airports.
  • Connaught Regional Airport (Knock) is now very successful:
    • Nearly 300,000 passengers annually
    • Links to Dublin, London, Manchester etc
  • 44% of labour force in West has completed 2nd or 3rd level education compared with 54% in GDA.
  • Region provides 28% of the national university students, however only 13% of graduates from the West region are employed within the region.
  • Brain drain due to the lack of suitable job opportunities for skilled labour, along with the lower level of economic and social development.
public services
Public Services
  • Some public services have moved to the West as part of the government decentralisation programme, e.g. the Department of Envirinment offices in Ballina, Co. Mayo and the Department of Education offices in Athlone Co. Westmeath.
  • Has not grown as much as that in the GDA because:
  • Dublin Airport is the main entry point into Ireland.
  • Transatlantic aircraft are no longer required to stop in Shannon
  • Visitor numbers from the US have declined in recent years. Compulsory stopover in Shannon has reduced numbers coming to the West
  • Transport and car hire are expensive in Ireland.
advantages for tourism
Advantages for Tourism.
  • Physical attractions
    • Rivers for boating and fishing – Shannon
    • Coastal scenery – Galway Bay
    • Mountains – Nephin Beg
    • Forests – Lough Key National Park
  • Cultural attractions
    • Gaeltacht regions
    • Ceide Fields (Mayo)
    • Knock (religious)
    • Galway city
Advantages of developing tourism for a region include:
  • Tourism is a labour intensive activity and employs large numbers of people.
  • The multiplier effect – farming, fishing, construction, shopping, entertainment etc.
  • Future success in tourism will depend on:
    • Improving more hotels
    • Keeping a pollution free environment
    • Developing ‘specialist’ attractions eg heritage tourism, golfing, fishing, sailing, surfing etc.
galway mayo tourism
Galway/Mayo Tourism
  • Physical environment is attractive – Maamturk/12Pins Mountains
  • Rugged and dramatic coastline – Sandy beaches of Achill Island
  • Large island-studded lakes – Lough Corrib
  • Niche tourism such as angling on the river Moy
  • Rich Gaeltacht culture – Connemara
  • Past civilisation evidence – Céide Fields, North Mayo 5,000 years old – Dún Aonghusa on Great Aran Island
  • Picturesque regions Cong, Co. Mayo – Scene for ‘The Quiet Man’
  • Knock Shrine - Pilgimages
tourism problems the west
Tourism Problems – The West
  • Only 12% of overseas visitors to Ireland come to the west
  • Direst access is a problem – Shannon Stopover reduced numbers from USA greatly
  • Seasonal nature of the industry
  • Solutions:
  • Improved transport access
  • Better facilities for tourists - focus on niche tourism eg. Hillwalking/Angling
  • Reduce prices – Need to compete with other cheaper European destinations
human processes in the west
Human Processes in the West
  • Within BMW region, parts of the larger urban areas of Galway, Drogheda and Dundalk show symptoms of extreme disadvantage in terms of the level of unemployment and the provision of health and other social services.
  • Remote rural areas such as Connemara and the Donegal Gaeltacht areas show signs of rural deprivation such as low educational and skill levels, unprofitable farm holdings, unemployment and high dependency rates.
  • Traditionally these areas have been a region of out migration, leaving older and younger dependents at home.
  • BMW has a lower population density than the GDA.
  • Galway is the exception showing an increase in population – educational and manufacturing centre for the region.
future development in the west
Future Development in the West
  • December 2007 – Irish government announced its regional investment plan 2007 – 2013.
  • Investment will come from:
    • Irish government (about €2 billion)
    • European Union (about €750 million)
  • Most of the investment will be for:
    • Infrastructure improvements (road, rail, broadband)
    • Development of education and institutes of technology
    • Job development
    • Environment improvements eg water quality.
Under NSS (National Spatial Strategy):
  • Galway City is a major Gateway
  • Ballina, Castlebar and Tuam are Hubs.
  • The BMW has progressed economically and this is shown by:
  • Loss of Objective 1 status in the EU.
  • The growth of Gross Domestic Product.
  • EU support funding will drop each year in the future (2007 - €152, 2013 - €15)