Dublin Port expansion plan refused

Wed, Jun 9, 2010, 01:00

An Bord Pleanála has today refused the Dublin Port Company permission to implement an expansion plan for the port.

The company had applied to develop additional facilities with access to deepwater berths at the north eastern part of Dublin Port, off Alexandra Road through infilling some 95 acres. It said throughout the application process that the port’s output is at an all-time high and nearing capacity.

The controversial plans had attracted more than 100 objections, however, including one from Dublin City Council calling them “premature”.

Explaining the decision, An Bord Pleanála said the proposed development is partly within the South Dublin Bay and River Tolka Estuary proposed Special Protection Area (pSPA) designated under the Birds Directive.

Refusing the proposal on four grounds, the planning authority said it was not satisfied the proposed development would not adversely affect the integrity of the South Dublin Bay and River Tolka Estuary proposed special protection area and "was not satisfied it would not adversely affect the natural heritage of Dublin Bay, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area".

Welcoming the decision, Dublin Bay Watch chairman Cllr Gerry Breen said: “Hopefully this decision will see the end of the 40 year old folly of the Port Company of attempting to infill the bay. Now we can turn to shape a vision for the bay which accords with the hopes and ambitions of the people of Dublin.”

Labour Dublin North Central Cllr Aodhán Ó Ríordáin also welcomed the decision to reject the application to infill and develop over 95 acres of the inner bay of Dublin.

“I am delighted that An Bord Pleanála have made this decision and finally put to bed the decades old controversy over the proposed infill of Dublin Bay. Myself and my Labour colleagues Bronwen Maher and Tommy Broughan have fought long and hard against the Port Company’s proposals over many years."

However, the board did not accept the Inspector’s recommendation to refuse permission on the grounds of the unacceptable risk of flooding of the Clontarf area due to wave conditions. In its decision, the board said the Clontarf area is already at risk of flooding and that a flood relief scheme by the City Council has been approved.

An Bord Pleanála said the Dublin Port Company had planning fees of €155,456 in relation to the application.

In a brief statement, the Dublin Port Company said it was reviewing the decision before making any further comment.

Addressing an oral hearing into the proposals last year Dublin Port Company chief executive Enda Connellan said capacity was a crucial factor and the port needed deeper berths to accommodate bigger ships. He said the expansion would allow for an increase of up to 50 per cent in capacity for unitised containers which was crucial to the national economy.

Dublin Port Company's plan included access to deepwater berths, a yard, car park and queueing lanes for containers, goods vehicles and cars waiting to board cargo and passenger vessels, cranes, a two-storey terminal services building and an extension to the existing railway line.

The proposed scheme also involved dredging an area of 220,000 square metres.

During oral hearings the firm argued its Dublin Gateway project would be self-financed and result in a 50% increase in throughput with only a 10 per cent increase in the port’s size.

It claimed it would employ 485 people during the three-year construction period, injecting 95 million euro into the economy during construction, with 90 full-time positions on completion.

In addition 14 hectares of land at Bull Island would have been transferred to Dublin’s citizens.

Two years ago An Bord Pleanála also rejected an application by the Port of Cork to move its city operations to Ringaskiddy at a cost of €225 million.

Additional reporting PA