An Taisce hails ruling on port expansion


NO EXTENSION of Drogheda Port into north Co Dublin will be approved by the Department of Transport at least until after the proposed deepwater container port at Bremore/Gormanston goes through the planning process.

In a letter to An Taisce, which had objected to the proposal, the maritime division of the Department said: “Having considered the matter further the Department has decided not to proceed with the extension of the harbour limits for the present.” The letter made it clear that “the most appropriate juncture for such an extension [of the harbour limits] to be considered would be after the proposal has been through the planning process” — and this is now at a preliminary site investigation stage.

Calling the decision “commendable”, An Taisce said it expected that the proposed development by Drogheda Port in partnership with Treasury Holdings would be subjected to strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in line with the Lisbon Treaty.

An Taisce’s Monuments and Antiquities Committee had expressed concern that the associated development of a deepwater port at either Bremore or Gormanston would “seriously impact” on neolithic passage tomb complexes in both of these locations.

Dr Mark Clinton, the committee’s chairman, noted that Gormanston “lies at the southern end of a renowned stretch of sandy beaches. These beaches cater for a broad catchment area, stretching from the hinterland of east Meath into north Co Dublin”.

Meath County Council has conceded that the wastewater situation in east Meath “is deteriorating due to capacity issues in the treatment plants in Drogheda and Ringsend, Dublin. This results in a serious constraint in the servicing of zoned lands in east Meath”.

Last February, a spokesman for Treasury Holdings said the developers were anxious to avoid the “very significant” archaeological site on Bremore headland and were considering the option of locating it in the less sensitive Gormanston area, to the north.

But one of the constraints there is that the likely site is partly covered by an EU-designated special protection area (SPA) for wild birds.

An Bord Pleanála is due to make a decision shortly on controversial plans by the port to infill a further 52 acres of Dublin Bay. The port company’s application attracted more than 100 objections, including one from Dublin City Council calling it “premature”.