The Small Firms Association (SFA) has conducted research into the cost of running a business in Ireland and has revealed that this is rising at a rapid rate compared to other European counterparts, RTE Business reports.

Factors including the ability to invest, develop and expand, as well as maintain and create new jobs, have been assessed in the SFA’s seventh National Business Survey.

Energy costs were the main problem for 9.7% of the 1,000 companies surveyed, while 66% claimed that it was a cause of major concern.

Other issues brought to light by the report were the cost of labour, inflation, skills shortages and red tape.

Meanwhile, environment charges were also among the restrictive processes named in the study.

According to Sustainable Energy Ireland, Irish investment in energy research exceeded Euro 28m in 2006.

There are some 321 energy and research, development and demonstration projects currently being undertaken in the republic.

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