Infrastructure Updates

1. NTA Survey results

In May we facilitated an NTA survey, engaging with businesses throughout the Island to guide the nature of investment into Little Island. The Island has benefited recently from road improvements that are very welcome but is still all but devoid of multi-modal transport options such as bus and bike. Thanks to the thousands of you who responded to the survey. The NTA expect to publish the findings in September and will keep you updated in advance.

2. Little Island Transport Study – Cork County Council Survey

As you may be aware Cork County Council finalised the Strategy Design Report for the Little Island Transportation Study in March 2019 (report linked here). The overall aim of the study is to:
• Identify the existing transportation issues within Little Island;
• Explore potential solutions and;
• Ensure that there is an integrated and balanced approach to transportation engineering for the future of the Island.

Niall O’Donovan and Aisling McCarthy have been tasked by Cork County Council with undertaking a survey of current employee numbers on Little Island as part of on-going monitoring of traffic volumes on the Island. Both will call to the various business premises on the Island. This work started on Monday 15th July and is envisaged to take approximately three weeks. The purpose of the study is to determine the number of both full-time and part-time employees in each business on the Island. The data is being collected solely for the use of traffic and transportation planning and will be treated with full confidentiality. It will not be shared outside the Council’s project team.

3. TII – Dunkettle Interchange Update

In recent months we have been liaising with agencies, departments and political representatives regarding progression of the Dunkettle Interchange which is critical nationally but also critical locally to Little Island.

On Friday TII publicly issued the following note:
• Due to the scale and complexity of the project, the form of contract chosen by TII to deliver this project is a 2-stage contract with ‘Early Contractor Involvement’.
• Stage 1 is used to de-risk the project in advance of the Stage 2 main works construction. At Stage 1, TII works with the Stage 1 contractor to develop the design and seek clarity on costs associated with Stage 2 construction.
• In May 2018, following a competition, the contract was awarded to John Sisk and Son Limited. During Stage 1, in addition to developing the design of the project in detail, the contractor has carried out additional ground investigations, engaged with utility owners, undertaken environmental mitigation works, and developed construction methods and sequencing. Complex traffic management arrangements, which are crucial to minimising disruption to motorists during the upgrade works, have also been developed.
• On the basis of the design development completed during Stage 1, the contractor will, over the coming days, submit their forecast of the cost to carry out the main works construction.
• TII will then assess this submission to determine if this cost is acceptable. It is anticipated that this assessment will be complete within the next month. If TII and the Stage 1 contractor agree this cost, TII will submit to the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, requesting approval from Government, to proceed to Stage 2.
• If the cost is not agreed, then Stage 2, main works construction, will be removed from the contract and TII will return to the marketplace to seek to achieve better value for the taxpayer. If this is the case, the site investigation, planning, and design developed to date will be used as part of a new tender process. If required, it is anticipated that this additional tender process would take 12 to 18 months to complete.
• If this additional time is required, some works, such as major utility diversions, are likely to continue as smaller advance works items, in order to further de-risk the project and minimise the time required to complete the main construction works.

Our Sustainable Future - Insights from Our Ocean Wealth Summit 2019

Our Sustainable Future – Insights from Our Ocean Wealth Summit 2019

On Monday 10th of June, Cork played host to what was an incredibly exciting and thought-provoking day. The Our Ocean Wealth Summit is Ireland’s flagship event for the marine sector. This year the Ocean Wealth Summit had a focus on small island nations, with the theme ‘Shared Voices from Small Island States’. With representatives from across 30 island nations, global leaders and over 750 delegates, Monday’s Ocean Wealth Summit was a convergence of inspirational leaders from both home and abroad. Speakers relayed with passion their determination, their hope, and their belief in a sustainable future.

When is the last time you read about acid rain?

The keynote address at the Ocean Wealth Summit was delivered by Former US Secretary of State John Kerry.  He left attendees in no doubt about the immediate need for global action and concerted political will to catalyse the pace of global decarbonisation. As he put it: “there will be no ocean wealth without ocean health” and climate action. Very much airing on the side of man’s potential to act, to solve a man-made problem with a man-made solution, Mr. Kerry drew the audience’s attention to previous global environmental issues that were addressed successfully by working together. “When is the last time you have read or talked about acid rain?” he challenged the audience, adding that climate change can be tackled if we decide collectively to collaborate stating “It’s not whether we can do it, but whether we decide to do it.” Adding, “We have no right to rest on the laurels of commitments made at the last meeting, commitments that aren’t being met”, referring to the national targets (pathways) under the Paris Agreement for greenhouse gas emission reductions to 2030, and prior to that the 2020 targets. Mr. Kerry concluded that step change is pivoted on the adoption of sensible energy policies. We have the means, we have the knowledge and capacity, but we need to seize the opportunity to adopt new technologies, to make brave political decisions and in his own words “to get the job done.” He added that the “greatest danger is futility, the belief that there is nothing one man or one woman can do”, rallying for innovation, insight and investment and encouraging global action and collaboration to meet this challenge.

Island Nations can be the incubators of change

An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney referenced how our history and our people are shaped by events in the oceans. Sadly in 2019 “our world is shadowed by crises, nearly all of them man-made.” Mr Coveney commended multilateralism among the small island nations as a key tool in protecting our oceans’ health; “Acting together, we have a voice.”

In 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) released a special report with a stark planetary health warning to us all, with a powerful call to action stating the world has just 11 short years to curb a climate catastrophe.  The report highlights the imperative that action is needed now, and fast, to cut the risk of extreme heat, droughts, floods and poverty. The IPCC Special Report outlines the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Beyond 1.5°C by even a half degree, we are opening wide the planetary front door to increasing our risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for millions upon millions of people.

The cost of Inaction

Currently Ireland is a laggard, consistently missing national and international carbon emission reduction targets. Our greenhouse gas emissions are nearly three million tonnes outside the pathway identified to meet 2020 targets. The cost of inaction is far off balance with the benefits of action when you consider the financial penalties payable of up to €150 million per annum. We are missing out on opportunities to shift to a clean energy and tech society and the benefits that this could bring to our wider economy, society and environment. The pathway to 2030 is our chance to make this shift and how we approach this will be our talisman of good fortune or missed opportunity. A report from EuroFound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, highlights the positive economic and employment benefits of a green transition for the EU as a whole, highlighting that governments must implement policy measures now to ensure that all of society can benefit from a move to a low carbon future.

The Earth is Our Home

Preceding John Kerry’s address, 17 year old youth activist Alicia O’Sullivan from Skibbereen, West Cork took to the stage at the Ocean Wealth Summit engaging the audience with her determination and leadership. Alicia spoke passionately about the need to refocus “across all institutions, policy, laws and economic structures on the core values of people, culture, home and our environment” winning the praise of both John Kerry and An Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Alicia had the full attention of the all attendees when she summed up young people’s frustration about the global climate inaction amongst leaders, saying “we are scared that we will not have what you had.”

Island Voices: The Ocean Wealth Summit

The Permanent Representative of Palau, Ngedikes Olai Uludong, to the United Nations had encouraging words for her island nation counterparts highlighting the scale and capability of island nations to make the difference, to act as ‘small incubators for change’. Ngedikes proudly talked of the efforts in Palau to conserve marine life and territories with 80% of their marine territory designated as fully protected marine reserve with no fishing or mining permitted. Palau, an archipelago of over 500 islands is smaller than New York City, and has the sixth largest marine  reserve  in the world, larger than the US state of California, a clear statement in recognition of the criticality of the ocean to their nation’s future survival.

The business and innovation potential in sustainability was highlighted through the success story of CuanTec, whose founder and CEO Dr Cait Murray-Green recounted the growth of CuanTec as one of Scotland’s leading companies in the bioeconomy area. CuanTec have developed a circular economy approach to using technology from the marine environment to prevent further ocean pollution and also to reduce food waste.  Dr Murray-Green emphasised the importance of innovation, and the potential for new technologies and processes.

Changing tides

Across the breadth of speakers at the Ocean Wealth Summit, the audience were left in no doubt about the opportunities for change, and the need for a step change in how we interact and counter climate change and environmental degradation to ensure a sustainable future. A future that protects our ocean’s health, and its vast and largely undiscovered and unexplored potential. As eloquently concluded by Mr. John Kerry: “There is no blue economy, there are no fisheries, if we cannot protect our oceans”.

This overview is but a brief snapshot of the summit, the full line up of speakers can be found here.

Seafest and the Ocean Wealth Summit will be back in Cork in 2020 and 2021.

View the Ocean Wealth Summit website here.

You may be interested in the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport draft plan, view here.

Read more about the our 8 main focus areas here.

Explainer: Cork’s Guide to the European Elections

On May 24th you will be asked to vote in the local and European Parliament elections. But do you know who your European candidates are or what they do?

Background

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are elected for a 5-year term. Ireland has 13 MEPs in the European Parliament who each represent a regional area. Candidates elected in Cork represent Ireland South. The European Parliament has a total of 751 MEPs, who come together in eight political groups organised by political affiliation.

What does an MEP do and why should you care?

MEPs are YOUR representatives to the European Parliament. They shape the future of the European Union by voting, lobbying and informing the policies adopted by EU institutions. For example, the current European Parliament agreed the abolition of roaming surcharges, which has enabled people to call, text and use mobile data for the same cost at home while travelling in another EU member state.

Your MEP is going to be in Brussels trying to get the best deal from Europe, for you. In this way MEPs shape our city region. From renovating and redeveloping the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, to the imminent arrival of the Mary Elmes bridge in Cork City, the European Parliament is investing euros in our back yard and MEPs have the power to decide how and where the EU budget is spent.

 Let’s have a look at how the European Union is investing in Ireland:

  • Ireland will receive €3.4bn investment by 2020
  • €300m in EU investment for Social Housing by 2020
  • Rolling out 5G in Ireland – €1.4bn investment
  • 15,000 Irish SMEs to receive €1.5bn funding from EU by 2020

Our EU Election Priorities – Five questions to ask the candidates:

1. A Europe that invests in its cities, regions and people

 “A good city is like a good party — people stay longer than really necessary, because they are enjoying themselves”: Jan Gehl 

Regional development and strategic investment in capital infrastructure is essential to making Ireland a better place to live and work. From developing the Triskel Arts centre, to facilitating the Port of Cork’s move to Ringaskiddy, delivering new public and road transport infrastructure, and investing in research and development, we call for continued financial supports to be available via the European Investment Bank to support the delivery of Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan.

 

 2. A competitive and cooperative approach to taxation 

Small, open economies such as Ireland use taxation policy to attract investment and increase competitiveness relative to its larger neighbours. Recent proposals by the European Commission to change voting for taxation policy has the potential to dilute Ireland’s ability to remain competitive.

We call on new MEPs to defend tax sovereignty of member states and advocate for collective international action on global tax matters such as tax-avoidance and digital tax. Small open economies such as Ireland depend on it.

 

3.An ambitious global trade agenda that delivers for all

The EU has secured more than 30 free trade agreements with non-EU countries, most recently with Canada and Japan. The UK’s EU departure poses a major challenge for Irish exporters, particularly SMEs, who will need assistance in accessing new markets and diversifying.

 Newly elected MEPs must advocate for global trade and support Irish exporters to benefit from SME-friendly trade agreements.

 

4. A supportive framework for a more sustainable circular economy

More efforts are needed to ensure that the effects of climate change do not continue to increase. Supporting businesses to transition to the low carbon economy should be a top priority for this European Parliament.

We call on MEPs and the European Commission to work together with Chambers of Commerce to ensure that the transition to a more sustainable business model is promoted in a way that is achievable to business.

 

5. A fully connected digital Europe

The completion of the Digital Single Market has become an important goal for the EU to ensure it maintains its position as a world leader in the digital economy. It will also make it much easier for SMEs to do business online across the EU.

We ask that striving to complete and enforce the Digital Single Market to be a priority for the newly elected members and appointed commissioners.

Get out and Vote

The EU matters to business, people and life in Cork. Under Ireland 2040, Cork has a once in a generation opportunity to sit with the major second cities of Europe such as Manchester, Rotterdam and Hamburg.

We ask that you get to know your candidates, question them on their election priorities, and make sure to use your vote on May 24th so your ideals and values are represented in Europe.

The Europe of tomorrow is in all our hands. Together, lets make it the best place for people and business.

MEP Candidates 2019 for Ireland South

Deirdre Clune (Fine Gael)

Sean Kelly (Fine Gael)

Andrew Doyle (Fine Gael)

Malcom Byrne (Fianna Fail)

Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fail)

Liadh Ní Riada  (Sinn Fein)

Sheila Nunan (Labour)

Grace O’Sullivan (Green Party)

Adrienne Wallace (People Before Profit)

Jan Van De Ven (Direct Democracy Ireland)

Breda Gardner (Independent)

Liam Minehan (Independent)

Diarmuid Patrick O’Flynn (Independent)

Walter Ryan Purcell (Independent)

Peter O’Loughlin (Independent)

Theresa Heaney (Independent)

Dolores Cahill (Independent)

Maurice Sexton (Independent)

Paddy Fitzgerald (Independent)

Mick Wallace (Independents 4 Change)

Allan Brennan (Independent)

Colleen Worthington (Independent)

Peter Madden (Independent)

 

To read our local election manifesto click here. 

Commuter Travel Survey Launched in Little Island

Little Island Infrastructure SurveyPress Release: May 9th 2019

Cork Chamber, in collaboration with the National Transport Authority today launched the NTA Smarter Travel Workplaces programme at the Laya Healthcare offices in Eastgate Business Park, Little Island. The programme which invites businesses to sign up, kicks off with a commuter travel survey for business employees in Little Island and encourages the active involvement of all businesses and commuters to the island to inform the NTA on their current commuting experience and their preferences for public and sustainable transport commuting.

Speaking at this launch, Conor Healy, CEO, Cork Chamber, “The situation for businesses and commuters is completely unsustainable in Little Island at present. While there are considerable works ongoing with the capacity improvement works addressing the flow of traffic on the eastern side of the island, and the extensive site works progressing at the Dunkettle Interchange with a 2022 completion date, there is an opportunity now via this programme for employers and employees to directly influence future public transport development on the island. The programme looks at the opportunities for bus, train, cycling, walking and car-pooling, and the actions and investment needed to develop a viable public and sustainable transport alternative to and on the island.”

Mr. Healy added ‘While the Little Island Transport Movement Strategy is approved by Council, it doesn’t currently have funding in place to support it. The strategy incorporates plans to include amongst others, bus corridors, a pedestrian access bridge from the train station, junction upgrades and cycle lanes on the island. Through participation of businesses with this NTA Smarter Travel Workplaces programme and the completion of the survey, the NTA can assess the appetite amongst commuters for the various infrastructure, facilities, or public realm improvements to support a range of transport modes, while also identifying actions that employers can undertake to encourage more sustainable commuting patterns and choices.”

MD of laya healthcare, Dónal Clancy at today’s launch commented, “We are delighted to help out and facilitate where we can to help alleviate the traffic problems in Little Island. We need to act now and find suitable solutions to make sure Little Island remains an attractive place to work. Participation in the upcoming Commuter Travel survey is key to identifying the needs and requirements of employees in Little Island and we will be actively encouraging the team here at laya healthcare to have their say. We welcome almost 500 team members here on a daily basis and are happy to support any smarter travel initiatives that would improve the traffic situation for our team and other businesses in Little Island.”

In concluding, Michelle O’Sullivan, Senior Public Affairs Executive in Cork Chamber and Coordinator of the programme for Little Island added, “We encourage all businesses to participate in the programme and to circulate the survey to their teams. The value of the programme will come with the participation of as many businesses as possible in the survey and the actions that follow. There will be little achieved if only a handful of businesses participate as changes need to be adopted by businesses across the island to improve the shared future situation.”

 

Notes:

Cork Chamber are working with the NTA as a regional stakeholder and are asking employers in Little Island to contact Michelle O’Sullivan in the Cork Chamber team no later than the 21st May to indicate their intention to sign up to the programme and to participate in the survey. The survey must be circulated within businesses no later than Monday 27th May and will remain open for a duration of two weeks.

For further information please contact: Conor Healy, CEO, Cork Chamber, 0879471858; Michelle O’Sullivan, Senior Public Affairs Executive, Cork Chamber, michelle@corkchamber.ie; 021 4530132/ 087 1404014

For more information on Public Affairs Activities at Cork Chamber click here.

What is the Future for Retail, the High Street and Irish Towns and Cities?

What is this the future picture for cities and towns? This question was at the centre of the Association of Town and City Management’s recent conference in London.

In this blog we discuss the shifting shopping patterns that every town and city should prepare for.

There is No Place Like Town

Retail is changing, there is no question about that. Since Amazon launched its online shop in 1995, the disruption caused by ecommerce has happened at a rate and scale which few towns ever imagined, never mind prepared for.

Over the twentysomething years that followed, online growth has been exponential. More than half of all Irish consumers used e-platforms for at least some of their Christmas 2018 purchases. The impact was felt across An Post, which saw parcel deliveries increase by over 50% to more than 100,000 each day.

So retail is moving online and customers are following too. Why does it matter? It matters because our changing shopping patterns have knock-on impacts on the high street, thus shaping the look and feel of communities throughout Ireland.

Speaking in London, Jim McMahon, UK Shadow Minister for Local Government and Devolution, linked changing retail patterns and community feel to voter behaviour, using Brexit and the perception that high streets and identities are dying as an example. “If you can’t control places where people live, people will feel left down” he said.

Where is the footfall going?

Research from UK retail intelligence company Springboard found that the period between 2008-2018 saw a 20% drop in footfall on high streets. By 2028, it is expected that 48% of all non-food shopping will be online.

Yet, changing footfall has affected different sectors in different ways. Capture rates (the rate of people walking into a shop) for department stores has declined by 4.1% since 2015. At 6%, the drop for electrical shops and mobile stores has been even bigger. At the other end of the scale, entertainment and book shops have grown capture rates by 2.9% while food and convenience stores report a 1.2% growth rate in the same period.

Different times of day also attract differing volumes of potential customers. Interestingly, while day time footfall dropped by 1.1% in 2017, the same year saw an increase in evening time and night time visitor numbers.

These trends reflect a shift in attitudes among consumers. Due to the prevalence of online platforms, consumers have access to shopping 24/7. They no longer need the high street, town or a retail centre to satisfy their shopping needs. Instead, consumers are looking for experiences. Experiences that they cannot access online. For example, eating-out has seen double-digit rises with lunch now accounting for 34% of all eating-out spend. In effect, centres that rely on retail only have seen more dramatic footfall drops than those which provide a varied offering.

While this data may appear frightening, it also provides the insight needed for towns to buck the trend. And interestingly, this has been achieved by one-third of UK cities and towns which all have successfully grown footfall and visitor numbers. Because people want to spend; but not just their money, they want to spend their time.

An End to Clone Towns

Think about the proposition of places. Does it offer anything different? Does it give children, parents and families a reason to come to town?

The loss of independent shops and strong dominance of chain stores on UK high streets has been coined ‘clone towns’. Data from 2010 by the New Economics Foundation revealed that four in ten of UK towns had become clones, full of chain stores and devoid of local character.

Clone towns are the exact opposite to what most modern-day consumers are seeking. What does this tell us? We should promote all that makes us different, all that gives us a sense of place. The growing appetite for unique experiences creates a huge opportunity for independent shops, something which we in Cork are blessed to have, and which often is commented favourably upon by visitors Leeside.

We should also embrace diversity, creativity and be playful. The more diverse a place is, the more successful it is likely to be. Best practice suggests that a vibrant town centre should have an appropriate balance of office, retail, residential, food and high-quality public places – all linked with good pedestrian and public transport access. At the same time, it is also important not to forget children and teenagers. Just like their parents, they are looking for a reason to visit. For example, some UK towns have successfully trialled teenage markets, where teenage creatives are invited to come display their products – again offering something different.

A Sense of Place

Above all, we should invest in and improve public place. One example of a town which dared to think different and embrace its individuality is Altrincham. Located in the shadow of Trafford Centre, Altrincham was previously labelled Britain’s bleakest ghost town with one-third of shops empty.

However, after developing a new town centre strategy built around its historic central market, new business incentives, and significant investment in its public realm to improve the experience of pedestrians and dwell time, Altrincham last year won the UK High Street or the Year Award 2018.

The town now has a vacancy rate of only 9% and footfall has risen 5% to more than 1.7m annual visitors, in stark contrast to national trends.

A Change’s Gonna Come

So is retail on its last legs, as some commentators would like to suggest? Certainly not. Many cities are alive and kicking, with higher footfall than ever before. Thriving high streets in 2019 are those that entice people to visit a town and spend time there, rather than just spending their money.

While we have already seen our urban centres transform, change is our only constant. Within the next five years, Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2005, who have never known a world without internet, who grew up in the sharing economy, use voice tech, and who will soon have families of their own) will make up a large proportion of consumers and our work force.

Are our towns and cities prepared for them?

 

 

This blog piece was first posted as an analysis in the Irish Examiner. 

For more information on our public affairs activities click here.

Sustainable; Sustainable economic; Sustainable Environment; Sustainable Social

She Is Sustainable Cork

panel; economic panel; sustainable; sheissustainable; sustainable cork

Economic Panel: Dr Celine McInerney, UCC, Michelle O’Sullivan, Cork Chamber (session moderator), Susan Steele, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Olive Flynn, TWIG Refill Store and Ingrid De Donker, iDDea

Women for a sustainable future

The first She is Sustainable Cork conference took place on Saturday 30th March to a sell-out crowd. The event, with a focus on sustainability and women’s leadership covered a variety of topics, ranging from how we can all make changes to our everyday lives, to reforming the financial system, agriculture and food. With the overall aim to appeal to everyone and to create an inclusive, authentic and inspiring conversation, participants connected, networked and engaged. The event celebrating women working in sustainability in Cork was held in UCC and was a free, volunteer-led event. She is Sustainable began in London in February 2016, and there have been eight such events since.

The SIS (She Is Sustainable) events are aimed at both experienced women, having a lot of learnings to share, and younger counterparts that are eager to learn from peer experiences, whether working, involved or interested in the area of sustainability.

The event was organised by Rosemarie MacSweeney from the International Energy Research Centre in UCC, Sinead Crowley from The Cool Planet Experience and Cork Chamber members, Dr Tara Shine and Madeleine Murray from Change by Degrees. Speakers included Deirdre O’Shaughnessy from 96fm, Susan Steele from the Sea-Fisheries Protection Agency, Eimear Delahunty from Food Cloud and Caroline Hennessy from 8 Degrees Brewery. The event included a Social, Environment and Economic panel with Michelle O’Sullivan from Cork Chamber moderating the Economic session.

The conversations continued after the conference at the second Cork Climate Cocktail, a networking platform for sustainability professionals initially launched in Dublin, with Chapters in Amsterdam, Cork, Colombo and London.

Watch out for follow-up She is Sustainable bitesize events.

For more information on Public Affairs Activities at Cork Chamber click here.

Cork Chamber in the US

Last month, Cork Chamber participated in a series of events and activities in the US, from San Francisco and Florida, to New York, Washington and Chicago. The activities included representation in a combination of twinned city meetings with the Lord Mayor and Cork City Council executives, as well as regional promotion and tourism promotion activities on the East Coast, in partnership with Cork County Council and Visit Cork.
During the month of March, there is a huge global awareness of Ireland, coinciding with the many St Patrick’s Day festivals and events organised by our international diaspora groups, and bolstered by campaigns such as Tourism Ireland’s global greening initiative.

On the East Coast

Cork Chamber represented the business community at the White House reception, as well as meeting with Consul General Ciaran Madden in New York and promoting Cork for tourism at the Chicago St Patrick’s Day parade. We also visited the New Jersey area, meeting with representatives of Choose New Jersey, Princeton University and Audible, in advance of the return visit of Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, to Cork this summer.

In our Twinned City

In our twinned city of San Francisco, the new Mayor, London Breed, the city’s first female African American mayor was a very apt Grand Marshal for the St Patrick’s Day parade, which was themed “Women Breaking Barriers”. At the flag raising ceremony on March 8th, the Mayor also declared March “Irish American Heritage and Friendship Month” in San Francisco.

Over to Florida

The Cork delegation was welcomed warmly by the Cork and Irish community in Fort Pierce, Florida, where Ciaran Edwards and Marian O’Leary of ‘Fort-to-Fort’ put together a programme of Irish events and activities, all supported by the Mayor of Fort Pierce, Linda Hudson.

Welcome to Miami

The Mayor of Miami and Lord Mayor Mick Finn signed a friendship agreement, committing the two cities to working more closely together. Given that the Port of Miami is twinned with the Port of Cork, and Miami-Dade County is twinned with Cork County, the city collaboration is a natural next step. Executives from the Resilience team in Miami City shared their expertise in flood protection and storm defence schemes with the Cork delegation.

What is the value of these visits?

1. Awareness of Cork

First and foremost, Cork Chamber has an important role to play in promoting Cork abroad. We can mistakenly assume that people outside Ireland have heard of Cork, however this is not the case.

2. Connecting Cork

Our international project, Connecting Cork, has focused on diaspora engagement and the promotion of Cork as a location for business and investment over the last 3 years. This initiative has been supported by industry partners, who recognise that unless people have heard of Cork, they can’t choose to invest here, start a business or move here for work.

3. Creating Positive Perceptions of Cork and Ireland

The Chamber recently partnered with Publitics PR and Lenox Consulting on a survey carried out in the US, which asked 1000 respondents about their perceptions of Ireland, and explored their knowledge of Cork in particular. Among those surveyed, 87% reported they have a ‘very positive’ or ‘positive’ opinion of Ireland. Likewise, 80% believe the U.S. and Ireland have a positive relationship and 91% believe it is important or very important for the U.S. to maintain that relationship.

4. Promoting all Aspects of Cork Life

While 70% of respondents said they would at least consider relocating to Ireland to live and work, nearly 60% knew nothing about the music and theatre events and festivals in Cork, and in fact 45% admitted they had never heard of Cork! These results demonstrate that while the US market is well disposed towards Ireland, Cork still has a lot of work to do in educating people about our region, and we must seize these opportunities to fly the red and white flag on the international stage.

For more information on International Relations at Cork Chamber click here.

Cork Chamber on Ireland's first Zero Carbon passenger bus journey. Championing green transport

Passengers Make Ireland’s First Journey on a Biogas Bus

Bus travellers in Cork were the first passengers to journey on a ‘green bus’ in Ireland on Monday 25th March.  With zero carbon emission footprint, the biomethane-powered bus is a viable alternative for Ireland’s public bus fleet. The biogas bus has been part of national trials looking at green bus performance, air quality impacts and CO2 emissions, among other criteria. Biomethane is a clean, renewable gas that is 98% methane. Also known as green gas, it can be used interchangeably with conventional fossil-fuel natural gas, meaning it can be added to the existing gas grid. A growing number of European capital cities now run their buses on gas, resulting in lower carbon emissions and better air quality in cities. Biomethane also contains virtually no particulate matter (PM) making it an ideal fuel for extensive use in urban areas.

The Transport Subgroup of Energy Cork has been advocating the benefits of adopting compressed natural gas to biomethane for public transport fleet technology for a number of years. The Ireland’s Greenest Bus Fleet proposal, developed by the Energy Cork Transport Sub-Group with the support of Cork Chamber, Bus Éireann, Gas Networks Ireland, Cork County Council, Cork City Council and University College Cork, envisages the transition of the Cork city bus fleet (at least 120 vehicles) on a phased basis from the current diesel vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG)/ Biomethane fully renewable gas fuelled vehicles. With the initiation of green gas injections to the national grid the possibility of a fully renewable and carbon neutral bus fleet and technology is now a real possibility that holds unprecedented benefits from an energy resilience, circular economy, waste to energy, clean energy and environmental perspective.

Cork Chamber, Energy Cork and Gas Networks Ireland, with MaREI at UCC, were delighted to recently host Ireland’s First Zero Carbon Biogas Bus Journey from Cork City to Ringaskiddy on Monday March 25th. The bus journey, utilising a biogas fuelled bus used in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s trial of low emission bus technologies in Cork and Dublin brought together a range of stakeholders from across Cork and nationally. In Cork we are awaiting the publication of the Cork Metropolitan Transport Strategy which will map out the future strategy and investment in Cork’s public and sustainable transport infrastructure and services. Faced with EU deadlines to reduce harmful greenhouse gases and following Budget 2018, Ireland will no longer purchase diesel buses for public transport as of 1st July 2019. With this Energy Cork Transport subgroup are continuing to advocate the opportunity in transitioning to a low emission public transport fleet which also gives effect to national waste management policy. This journey successfully received broad media coverage owed to the increasing business and public interest in adopting clean technologies and transitioning to a low carbon society. Ireland’s First Zero Carbon Bus Journey was also mentioned in the Climate Action Committee’s proceedings on March 27th.

The Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport has been carrying out technology trials of hybrid diesel, fully electric, electric hybrid, compressed natural gas (CNG) and biomethane powered buses in Cork and Dublin in recent months to review performance. The green buses have been travelling key routes in the urban bus transport network, but have been weighted rather than carrying passengers. This technology is tried and tested with examples of biomethane bus fleets in Stockholm, Lille and Nottingham to name just a few cities. Cork Chamber and Energy Cork are keen to see this technology supported by the National Transport Authority and hope to see these buses rolled out in Cork in the not too distant future. We are awaiting the conclusion of these trials.

For more information on Public Affairs Activities at Cork Chamber click here.

What’s your top 10? Cork Bike Scheme to be extended with TEN new stations

Ten new bike stations will be added to Cork’s public bicycle network by the end of 2019. This was confirmed by the National Transport Authority last week in response to our call for further investment.

The expansion comes after more than one million journeys were clocked on Cork’s shared bikes in 2018, four years after the scheme’s launch in 2014. In Cork alone, more than 270,000 journeys were made on 330 rented bikes in 2018: more than twice the figure for Galway and Limerick combined.

Cork in Numbers

Given the size of Cork City, it is no surprise that the public bike scheme has been a huge success. Benefiting from a flat and compact city centre, the NTA estimates that the average Cork trip was 1.5 kilometres. You can practically cycle anywhere within the city centre in less than ten minutes.

Yet, Census 2016 revealed that only 3% of commuters in metropolitan Cork cycle to work. This despite that half of all commuter trips in Cork are less than five kilometres. So in Cork we have great scope for promoting cycling as a commuter option. In fact, the last Census showed that cycling already has become much more popular among Irish commuters. Of all transport modes, cycling has seen the greatest share increase, having grown by 43% since 2011.

What our Members Say

In 2017, we asked our members about their usage of the Cork public bike scheme and appetite for growth. The survey found that 62% of businesses use their private car when accessing or travelling through the city, followed by 15% cycling.

Of those using the scheme, 27% said they use public bikes to travel between meetings. At Cork Chamber, we believe this number can be grown substantially. Within our own team, we offer everyone Coke Zero Bikes subscriptions and bicycle helmets are always available at reception. This small but significant step has meant that many of our meetings in places such as Cork City Council and UCC are now accessed by bike rather than by car.

Across our membership in both Cork city and county there is equally strong appetite for using the bike rather than a car. 85% of our members state that they would use Cork’s public bike scheme if it was expanded.  For example, the opportunity for rolling out a Little Island public bike scheme to reduce traffic volumes has been raised by our members. This highlights how cycling should not be reserved for the city centre only.

When asked to identify areas for new stations the most popular locations were:

  1. Blackrock and Douglas
  2. CIT
  3. Blackpool

Carbon Neutrality

It is now clear that Ireland will not reach its 2020 climate targets and fines will soon come our way as a consequence thereof. As a city, region and country, we can do much better when it comes to promoting sustainable transport and facilitating a shift to a cleaner environment.

Ensuring bikeable cities presents one of the greatest opportunities towards carbon neutral environments. In Scandinavian cities, 98% of people using public transport begin their journey on foot or by bicycle. The opportunity exists to replicate this in Cork, connecting residential zones to commuter hubs and commercial activity while enabling a more active, healthier and happier workforce.

Ten new stations are a welcome first step. Now we need to focus on the next ten.

For more information on Public Affairs Activity at Cork Chamber click here.