Published: February 2010
The purpose of this report is to make recommendations on critical elements of infrastructure required on the island of Ireland in order to cater for an increased population of eight million, and to support a world class competitive economy. By considering the combined needs on an all-island basis it is clear that there will be economies of scale which will benefit the population.
An advanced competitive economy requires first-class infrastructure, which will deliver efficient and integrated transport systems, high quality technical connectivity, including broadband, cost effective energy, sustainable environmental solutions and an attractive quality of life for its people.It is our considered view that for the island to takes its place amongst the most advanced competitive economies in the world, the following is required:
- a focus on eight City Regions accounting for 90% of the population which will deliver economies of scale and efficiencies necessary for international competitiveness;
- increased urbanisation and density of the city populations, which will allow the delivery of the first-class infrastructure;
- a Dublin–Belfast Corridor with a population of four million and appropriate infrastructure investment which can compete with other major European urban zones;
- high quality connectivity both within and between the eight City Regions;
- development of Dublin Airport, complemented by Belfast International, as an international hub to improve worldwide connectivity for business on the island; and,
- use of innovative financing to fund infrastructure development.
Using the most recent official projections for Ireland (up to 2026) and Northern Ireland (up to 2033)  the report estimates that the population of the island will be just over eight million by 2030. [4 ] In the South the population increase will be based upon continuing (albeit declining) international migration and constant fertility. Of relevance to this report, it is likely to be accompanied by traditional internal migration patterns and movement of younger people to the urban areas. This will result in a rise from 4.23 million (2006) to 5.69 million (2026).  In the North natural growth (fertility) and improvements in mortality are the main factors behind the 0.7% per annum increase.
To achieve infrastructural quality comparable with the best in the developed OECD countries and to support the above population it is of critical importance that medium to long-term infrastructural planning takes place. There is clear evidence that there is at present an infrastructural deficit on the island. This deficit must be eliminated and we must then keep pace with developments in the more advanced competing economies which will continue to drive forward and improve their infrastructure.
Some guiding principles were adopted in preparing our report. We recognised that there are severe limitations on the financial resources likely to be available. It has been demonstrated internationally that cities are the key drivers of economic and social development. They are
the engines of development within wider City Regions. We have focused on City Regions comprising a circle of 65km radius from the city centre and have identified eight City Regions, which together account for almost 90% of the population of the island and where we believe best value can be obtained from limited resources. The influence of a city does of course extend
further, particularly along the transport corridors which link it to other cities.
Irish cities are small by international standards. We have therefore also considered the opportunities for the development of one or two conurbations which could have the economies of scale to compete with some of the larger urban zones in Europe. The Dublin–Belfast Corridor is the primary conurbation, and a second possibility exists on the South West Corridor linking Cork, Limerick and Galway.
The globalisation of world trade and travel is a further consideration. It is critical that there is a very high level of connectivity within the island and between the island and international centres of trade. This will involve the development of a major international airport hub on the island.
The cost of providing the necessary infrastructure will be substantial. It will be necessary to harness all the available public and private resources in a manner which will provide the highest return in employment and exchequer revenue to the people of the island. Focus should be on providing essential infrastructure for the high growth City Regions which have the greatest attraction for inward investment and which will provide the highest return, and lead to higher employment and living standards. The alternative of spreading limited resources too thinly will yield less positive results.
“An advanced competitive economy requires first-class infrastructure, which will deliver efficient and integrated transport systems, high quality technical connectivity, including broadband, cost effective energy, sustainable environmental solutions and an attractive quality of life for its people.”
 Central Statistics Office, Regional Population Statistics, 2011-2026 (December 2008); Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, 2008-based Population Projections (October 2009).
 The projections give the island a total population of almost 7.7 million by 2026-30. The eight million total comes from an assumption that Ireland’s 1.5% per annum increase up to 2026 would continue at least up to 2030. That would mean a further population increase of 341,000 – leaving a total of 6.03 million in Ireland and 1.99 million in Northern Ireland, or 8.02 million in total.
 It should be noted that these projections were released in October 2008 before the current economic downturn and more recent signs of emigration. What effect this will have on the overall growth rate is open to question.
Click here to download the full report: Infrastructure for an Island Population of 8 Million
Click here to download the summary report: Infrastructure for an Island Population of 8 Million Summary Report