One of the Republic’s biggest ports plans to spend €20 million to help create a site for marine-related industries on 83 acres of its land.
Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC) is working on a €64 million development plan on its site on the estuary of Ireland's longest river.
The company intends to spend €20 million to convert 83 acres to the east of its existing port into a site for marine-related industry.
According to Shannon Foynes, the work will be the biggest infrastructure development programme ever undertaken by the company.
It will involve raising the level of the entire 83-acre area by 4.4m, along with new internal roads, bridges and a roundabout.
Shannon Foynes Port Company has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission for the work as well as changes to its existing jetties and quays.
Applications for developments classed as critical infrastructure go straight to the planning appeals board rather than to local councils.
The development is part of Shannon Foynes’ overall expansion plan, known as Vision 2041, which involves spending €64 million to turn the port into one of the Republic’s leading economic zones.
Patrick Keating, SFPC's chief executive, pointed out the proposal was consistent with the the National Development Plan and would establish the port as a key freight hub.
"That in turn unleashes huge potential for the port and the estuary," he said. "The estuary is one of the deepest natural watercourses in all of Europe but without modern maritime transport infrastructure, its potential would always be limited."
He predicted the expansion would boost employment in Foynes and the wider mid-western region. Business at the port is back at levels last reached before the 2008 financial crisis, but its chief executive warned that Shannon Foynes was nearing its capacity.
Mr Keating pointed out that the EU recognised Foynes as strategic infrastructure, adding that the Government's Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan also endorsed the mid-western port's potential.
Mr Keating said that SFPC was reciprocating the Government’s recognition by pressing ahead with the proposed expansion.