Dublin Port spurns Minister’s demands to use lands for housing

State company tells Eamon Ryan that property marked for infrastructure ‘unavailable’

Dublin Port said the suggested loss of lands needed for new port capacity up to 2040 would ‘induce an otherwise avoidable deficit’ in national port capacity. File photograph: Getty

Dublin Port said the suggested loss of lands needed for new port capacity up to 2040 would ‘induce an otherwise avoidable deficit’ in national port capacity. File photograph: Getty

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Dublin Port has rejected outright Eamon Ryan’s demands to use some of its lands for housing, saying all properties earmarked for infrastructure “are required for that purpose and are not available for alternative uses”.

In a strongly worded report to the Green Party leader and Minister for Transport, the State’s largest port said its lands cannot be developed for any other use “without large and negative consequences for national port capacity and for national greenhouse gas emissions”.

Emissions would rise because displacing shipments to Rosslare, Waterford or Cork would lead to increased truck traffic to bring goods by road to the Dublin market.

Development plan

While the State-owned company recognised the Government’s right to take decisions contrary to its 2040 masterplan, it advised the Minister that the full development of Dublin Port lands was the only way to ensure sufficient national port capacity in that period.

“Whatever challenges Government faces in the area of housing policy, it is not a lack of land. However, the availability of land is a critical constraint for the development of port capacity in Dublin Port.”

The report, seen by The Irish Times, was prepared for talks between Dublin Port and the Department of Transport on July 22nd, which followed a July 8th meeting. The possible use of port lands for housing arose following a meeting on June 30th between the company and Mr Ryan and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton, who has direct political responsibility for the port.

However, the report said Mr Ryan told port executives in a meeting on November 6th that he wanted port lands on Poolbeg peninsula developed for housing. Such lands are within the Minister’s constituency, Dublin Bay South. In the report Dublin Port said the properties in question are of “particular importance” to developments already in the planning process.

The Minister’s spokeswoman said there was no change to his plans. “Minister Ryan and the Department of Transport has engaged with several State companies, including ports, on the need to provide land for housing. These discussions are ongoing,” she said.

“Given the serious housing crisis facing the State, Minister Ryan is determined that the transport sector, including Dublin Port, will play its part in the solution. Several of the State’s transport companies have land close to existing public transport links, which will help facilitate compact development, particularly in our cities.”

But Dublin Port said the suggested loss of lands needed for new port capacity up to 2040 would “induce an otherwise avoidable deficit” in national port capacity. “It would be an extraordinary outcome if Government policy were to wittingly cause this to happen.”

Port capacity

The report went on to say there was already “an evident risk of a shortage of port capacity” within 20 years. “If the suggested alternative use of the three land areas that the Minister has identified were to happen, then this port capacity deficit could emerge as early as 2028.”

Citing a front-page July report in The Irish Times on the Minister’s request, the company said it had to tell customers “of a potential threat to their services” through the port.

“It is important for the work of the company that the uncertainty that has now been introduced by Minister Ryan’s request is removed, firstly, to give clarity on what the company’s priorities need to be for the future and, secondly, to give certainty to the shipping line customers who provide essential capacity for Irish imports and exports on direct services to Continental Europe.”

The loss of Dublin Port lands would necessitate the development of new capacity at Rosslare, Waterford and Cork.

“Given the state of preparedness in these ports to develop major port infrastructure projects and the financial resources available to them, it would not be prudent to plan on the basis that any significant additional capacity would be available in any of these ports within 20 years.”

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