West Regional Authority (WRA), Ireland  (www.wra.ie)

a) Type of body

The West Regional Authority is one of eight Regional Authorities (NUTS III) established by the Government under the Local Government Act 1991 (Regional Authority Establishment Orders 1993). The West Region is situated on the western seaboard, with the Atlantic to the west and the river Shannon to the east, encompassing the counties (NUTS IV) of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

b) General information

The majority of employment is based in the commerce or professional sector, with a large number also employed in manufacturing. Agriculture, which was once dominant, has been on the decline for some time. Most industry and manufacturing in the west is hi-tech e.g., medical equipment, electronics and chemicals. Manufacturing employment is split 50:50 between Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Indigenous Industries. Tourism is of major importance to the region, as an attractive and sustainable source of business.

Galway City is the regional capital and the only city in the West Region with all regional services available therein, e.g. health, third level education and so on. Galway is famous for its arts culture and hosts a number of sporting, music, arts and other events, including annual festivals such as the Galway Arts Festival, Galway Races and the Galway International Oyster Festival. Galway has a strong local economy with complementary business sectors, including manufacturing industry, tourism, retail and distribution, education, healthcare and services that include financial, construction, cultural, and professional.

The countryside in the rest of the region consists of a rugged coastline, a number of offshore islands, numerous quality beaches, inland waterways, lakes, mountains and plains. The area is renowned for the warmth of its people and for the continuation of traditions, particularly the Irish language (Gaelic), which is widely used in the Gaeltacht areas of the region and also in Galway city. There are a number of substantial service towns, smaller towns and villages within the region, serving these wide rural hinterlands.

Functions: Some of the roles and activities of the West Regional Authority include the following:
  • To promote co-ordination and where appropriate, co-operation, joint action, joint arrangements, agreements, communication or consultation between local authorities or other public authorities in the region or between such authorities of other regions.
  • To foster co-ordination, consistency and compatibility with programmes, plans, policies, proposals or objectives of the Government or any Minister of the Government.
  • Oversee the co-ordination of the provision of Public Services in the Region.
  • The adoption of the Regional Planning Guidelines under the Planning and Development Act 2000-2010.
  • The implementation of the Regional Planning Guidelines under the Planning and Development Act 2000-2010.

c) West Regional Authority in GRISI PLUS

The West Regional Authority has recently reviewed these Regional Planning Guidelines and has published the West Regional Planning Guidelines 2010-2022 whose aim is to provide a framework for long term strategic development in the West Region. These guidelines are informed by a wide range of EU Directives as transposed into Irish law and have devised broad strategies for Economic Development, Transport and Infrastructure, Environment and Amenities as well Social Infrastructure and Community Development as well as an Implementation Strategy.

The West Region has a dispersed rural population and a network of towns and villages which serve large rural hinterlands. The Regional Planning Guidelines aims to see vibrant and diversified rural areas which benefit from local employment options and from the development of their resource potential while Community Development is an essential component of regional competitiveness. The aim is to contribute to the development of towns and villages and to move away from the construction of single rural dwellings which are not served by essential infrastructure and are too far from a town or village to make a meaningful contribution
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