Appeal against marina decision opens

 

An appeal against Dun LaoghaireRathdown County Council's decision to grant planning permission for a marina in Dun Laoghaire Harbour begins this morning.

Permission was granted to the State-owned Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company for an international-standard, 680-berth marina to the west of the existing ferry terminal. It will also involve constructing two new breakwaters, marina service buildings, an amenity area, a boat hoist, car-parks and improvements to the public slipway.

Preparatory work on the application was funded by a £300,000 grant from the Department of the Marine in 1995. The former minister for the marine, Mr Sean Barrett, allocated £3 million for the breakwaters. The total cost of the marina is expected to exceed £10 million.

The proposal is being opposed by some harbour users who have been asked to relocate to accommodate the marina, including the Department of Defence which has an FCA premises near the Coal Harbour, and St Michael's Rowing Club which has practised in the harbour since the 1920s. Other objectors include private individuals and An Taisce, which is concerned about the public amenity value of the harbour being infringed.

A local resident, Mr Gary Hooper, has been granted observer status at the An Bord Pleanala inquiry. Mr Hooper's contribution is to ask why the proposed marina could not be built around the former ferry terminal at Carlisle Pier. "It should be possible to place the marina around Carlisle Pier for just £500,000. I want to know why this option was not followed up instead of a £10 million to £12 million project," he said.

The former minister of State at the Department of Defence and Marine, Mr Eamon Gilmore, is not, contrary to expectations, listed as an objector. Mr Gilmore has in the past spoken of his concern that the harbour may be "handed over to well-heeled yachties" at the expense of locals. However, he told The Irish Times he will be advising the rowing club, and not objecting in his own name.

The secretary of St Michael's Rowing Club, Mr John Hughes, said efforts had been made by the Harbour Company to facilitate the rowing club. "The Harbour Company wanted to move us to the West Blight area, but that is where a lot of young people will be training in yachting skills. You can't run a boat race or practice session through that kind of thing. It is too dangerous."

A spokesman for the Department of Defence said the alternative facilities offered by the Harbour Company for the Naval Service and the FCA "had not come up to scratch".

The hearing takes place in the Royal Marine Hotel and is expected to last two days.