Dun Laoghaire Save-Our-Seafront was today granted leave by the High Court to challenge An Bord Pleanala’s decision to approve cruise ship docking in the local harbour.
The group, which is an environmental non-governmental organisation chaired by local TD Richard Boyd Barrett, claimed that the environmental effect of the proposed cruise berths were not adequately assessed by the Board.
Mr Justice Max Barrett granted the group leave to judicially review the Board’s decision on a number of grounds.
The court heard that independent environmental impact studies were inadequate and as a result the Board had not lawfully discharged its obligations under Irish and European planning laws.
Counsel for the group said the Board should have conducted an independent and separate assessment before having given its decision without merely relying on the information provided by the Dunlaoghaire Harbour Company.
The court heard there had been a failure by the Board to conduct surveys relating to the effects on summer and winter birds and the impact on the Minke Whale population, a species listed in the Habitats Directive, and as a result of which its decision was further flawed.
Mr Justice Barrett heard that the harbour company proposed to dump the dredge spoil from the navigation channel into the sea on the Burford Bank which was within the Rockabill to Dalkey Island special area of conservation, an off shore reef vulnerable to toxins.
The group also alleged that given the toxic profile of the dredge spoil the harbour board was obliged to consider the impact of the dumping of spoil in all local special areas of conservation in Dublin Bay and Rockabill which it had not done.
It stated in an affidavit that the harbour company had failed to consider the cumulative effects on marine mammals or sea birds from other proposed or permitted developments within Dublin Bay.
The harbour company had also failed to conduct any adequate assessment of the potential impact on otters, an animal species of community interest entitled to strict protection.
The company appeared to have accepted in the course of an Oral Hearing before a Board Inspector that there would be discharges of contaminated water from the cruise ships within territorial waters but that these discharges would not be significant. The group claimed this had not been considered by an Bord Pleanala.
The harbour company had not proposed to build or provide waste reception facilities at the port and no explanation had been provided to the board as to why no such facilities had been constructed.
The affidavit stated that no information had been provided as to how it was envisaged that cruise ships would have sufficient capacity in the absence of sewage reception facilities to arrive from a destination, access the berth, potentially ride at anchor during adverse weather, dock for a period and transit to the next port without discharging waste at sea.
The group claimed that the MARPOL convention allowed the discharge of disinfected waste and sewage more than three nautical miles from the shore and the harbour company had not provided information as to how it could enforce compliance with a ban on discharges within territorial waters.
The court heard that as it was anticipated a cruise ship would call every second day from April to September there was an obligation on the harbour company to provide port reception facilities for ship generated wastes.
Judge Barrett granted leave to the group to bring judicial review proceedings and adjourned the matter until January 31st.