Galway port plan will have to be redrawn


GALWAY Harbour Company will have to redraw its plans for a €200 million deepwater port, due to a failure to secure necessary approvals for preliminary investigations.

The ambitious plan, which intended to build on the success of the Volvo Ocean Race stopover, was due to have been submitted directly to the planning appeals board some months ago under the Strategic Infrastructure Act.

However, the harbour company was advised that site investigation works for the application were conducted without first securing full approval for a foreshore licence from the Department of the Environment.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is said to have been informed of the setback, which is expected to delay submission of a planning application to An Bord Pleanála until the middle of next year.

Galway harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan said talks were continuing to resolve the issues, but it could be next June or July before the planning application was submitted to An Bord Pleanála.

The Department of the Environment said an application had been received from the harbour company for a foreshore licence for site investigation works, which still had to be determined. It noted that a public consultation process had been conducted as part of the application.

The public consultation, held early this year, outlined details of the staged development, which will involve reclamation of land.

Dublin Port has deferred its controversial reclamation and development project for 10 years.

The first stage of the Galway project, costed at €50 million, involves relocating the existing tidal harbour to an outer port that would not be subject to tidal restrictions and would provide deepwater berths.

It proposes rejuvenation of the inner port and creation of a new “cultural quarter” for the city.

A 200-berth marina and a terminal building and berths for cruise liners are also incorporated in the plan, which includes a rail link to accommodate freight, dedicated quay space for the inshore fishing fleet and relocation of oil storage terminals.

An Taisce Galway branch chairman Derrick Hambleton said yesterday the delay raised “significant” outstanding issues relating to the project.

“It is quite clear to An Taisce that this project is doomed to fail,” he said.

“From day one, it was really all about oil – both the need for facilities to allow the import of larger tankers in more profitable quantities, but also the necessity to move the recently built oil terminal away from human habitation.”