The international trade hub planned for Athlone is "in the middle of nowhere" and will be blown "out of the water" by a competing development in Liverpool, according to a backer of the Liverpool project.
In a bullish interview which was published by the Liverpool Echo this week, Lindsey Ashworth indicated that he was not concerned about the prospect of competing with Athlone for business from China. Mr Ashworth is a representative of The Peel Group which was granted permission last September for an international trade centre in Wirral.
He claimed this project "will be first and will be better" than the one in Athlone.
He said preparatory work at the site in Liverpool was underway and construction was due to start later this year, with the opening scheduled for Spring 2014. "We are not intimidated because that scheme in Ireland is in the middle of nowhere," said Mr Ashworth.
"People will not travel far from the airport to go somewhere like this. Ours is within an hour of two international airports. People will only go if it's in a geographically perfect location, which ours is.
"We will blow them out of the water - we just have to be first and best and do a fantastic job." He said all projects of this kind were in competition with one another, and that some tenants had been lined up for the Liverpool site.
John Tiernan, CEO of Athlone Business Park Ltd, the company behind the local project, told the Westmeath Independent yesterday (Tuesday): "We won't be making any comment on it. They have their business to do and we have ours."
An Bord Pleanala granted planning permission for the Creggan, Athlone, development last week.
Mr Tiernan has said the international trade hub in Athlone could proceed to the construction phase in the next 15 months and that his "optimistic" projection for its year of opening was 2015.
The Liverpool project's website said it would be the largest and most sustainable trade centre in Europe, and would serve as "a trading 'gateway' into the UK and the whole of Europe."
Planning documents for the Athlone project used broadly similar terms, calling it "a year-round shop window for Chinese products in Europe."