Dublin Port dumping plan attracts record number of objections
Underwater Council warns contaminants could damage special area of conservation
Seal near Dalkey Island in Dublin bay. Previous dumping has already had an impact on the integrity of the area. Photograph: Nigel Motyer
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received a record number of submissions in response to Dublin Port’s most recent application to dump spoil in Dublin Bay.
A total of 780 submissions from public bodies, non-governmental organisations and individuals have been received in relation to the €230 million Alexandra Basin redevelopment project.
The EPA said this was the highest number of submissions received on a dumping at sea permit application since it assumed responsibility for this function in 2010. However, it will not be holding an oral hearing on the application as this is not allowed for in the current legislation.
An Bord Pleanála has already approved the Alexandra Basin redevelopment. At an estimated cost of €230 million it has been described as the single largest infrastructural investment project in the history of the port.
It aims to facilitate larger cruise ships in the port, including a twin berth farther up the Liffey beside the former Point Depot (now the 3 Arena).
As part of this, Dublin Port plans to dispose of a large part of some 6.4 million cubic metres of material on the Burford bank 5km southeast of Howth, which is in a special area of conservation (SAC) from Rockabill to Dalkey Island.
However, the plan is opposed by Comhairle Fo-Thuinn, the Irish Underwater Council, representing some 2,000 divers, among other groups. It says previous dumping has already had an impact on the integrity of the area.
Diver and engineer Peadar Farrell of the Protect Dublin Bay group said the port company must prove the dumping would not damage the SAC and that plans to cover the contaminated material with a stone layer on the seabed were insufficient. Even if covered, it could still leach out into the bay over time, with consequent impact on the food chain, he said.
Dublin Port is making no comment on the EPA application at present.