Dublin Port working to capacity but needs extra room to grow

Opening of a 44-hectare Dublin Inland Port at a cost of €48m will free up crucial space

Dublin Port. Photograph: iStock

Dublin Port. Photograph: iStock

 

Queues of super-sized ships waiting outside ports may have become common sights off the coasts of England, China and the western United States during the disruption to global supply chains caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – and Brexit in the UK – but thankfully they have not been seen off Irish ports.

Still, there has been long-standing pressure on space in Dublin Port, the country’s largest port. Not only has the port had to give up a large amount of space to State border infrastructure in the wake of Brexit but it also must manage stockpiles of empty containers.

The news that Dublin Port Company will open the 44-hectare Dublin Inland Port at a cost of €48 million early next month shows the kind of free space the port needs to maximise the use of its own land as part of a master plan covering the period to 2040.

The port already squeezes as much use as it can out of the 260 hectares it has. In productivity terms, it gets more use out of its land than ports such as Rotterdam and Barcelona in terms of throughput of container tonnage per hectare. The port’s plan for the next two decades is to get even more productivity out of that land.

To that end, the opening of a 44-hectare site to the west of Dublin Airport, 14km from the port, will free up space. The location off the M50 around Dublin means it can store empty containers so they do not take up valuable space at Dublin Port.

Dublin Ferryport Terminals, the subsidiary of ferry-owner Irish Continental Group and one of the port’s three container terminals (the one with the red cranes), will be the first operator at Dublin Inland Port with a 20-year lease to run a five-hectare empty container. The inland port will allow DFT to increase its throughput handling capacity at the actual port by 20 per cent.

No doubt the move will excite some commentators who want the whole port to be moved to another location to create more living space for the city. The only issue with the idea is its multi-billion euro cost and the fact that the port will only get busier and even more essential as a hub for Irish commerce.