Dublin Port to defer plans to infill 50 acres


DUBLIN PORT has decided to defer its controversial plans to infill 50 acres of the inner bay for at least 10 years and make better use of its existing assets in the meantime, according to chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly.

In an interview with The Irish Timesto mark the publication today of a draft masterplan for the port, he said the proposed infill at its eastern end – first mooted in 1988 – would not be needed until throughput looked like reaching 60 million tonnes a year.

He also dismissed Drogheda Port’s plan to develop a new container port at Bremore, in north Co Dublin. ´ “I genuinely don’t see it happening. The cost could be €500 million and, to make that viable, it would need 80 per cent of the turnover of every port on the island.”

Mr O’Reilly said Dublin Port had learned from consultations over the past 10 months that “one of the big concerns was creeping infill, and a fear that ‘we’re going to lose the bay’. This struck a chord with us because we don’t want to see the amenities of the bay destroyed.”

Thus, although the draft masterplan 2011-2040 includes the proposed infill, it would only be progressed through the planning process in the latter part of this period and would represent “the final imposition of the port” on the inner area of Dublin Bay.

“We need to be pretty prudent about investment and do things in bite-sized lumps,” Mr O’Reilly said. “There is no reason for us to do colossal projects that won’t be needed for 10 years or more. We can do things on a smaller scale, incrementally over time.”

“We now have breathing space because of recession,” Mr O’ Reilly added. “And I want to assure people that we will be doing everything we can to make use of the land we already have before we do any design for infill along the river [Liffey] and the inner bay.

“I am absolutely comfortable in my mind that we have what we need here for a decade at least,” he said. For example, a site on the west side of East Wall Road – “cut off by the Port Tunnel” – could be used to store imported cars, thus freeing up more space for containers.

Mr O’Reilly envisaged that plans for smaller areas of infill on the north and south sides of the estuary – including the development of historic Poolbeg Harbour as a heritage attraction – were likely to proceed first, before the larger, more controversial infill at the port’s eastern end.

He conceded that any large infill would be “problematic because of the high hurdles of European directives” protecting wild birds in Dublin Bay.

“One purpose of the masterplan is that all stakeholders will get a better understanding of the port and what we think should happen.”

The masterplan will be available for viewing from tomorrow at the Port Centre, on Alexandra Road, until December 2nd, or online at dublinport.ie/masterplan