Galway Harbour proposals against State policy, hearing told

An Bord Pleanála hears planned harbour expansion breaches national ports policy

Galway Harbour's proposed expansion is contrary to State policy and will "undermine" Shannon-Foynes Port, the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing has heard.

The planning application for the first phase of the €126 million project also omits to mention "long-standing" proposals for the Connemara fishing port of Rossaveal, the hearing was told on its sixth day.

Town planner Aiden O'Neill, representing the Shannon-Foynes-based oil distributor Atlantic Fuel Supply Company Ltd, said the scale of the proposed development was contrary to several State policies, including the 2013 national ports policy.

The proposed extension of the regional port at Galway would compete with and potentially undermine the national “tier one” port designation of Shannon-Foynes, just 130km away, he said.


Chartered civil engineer Vincent Crockett, representing the Rossaveal fishery harbour, pointed to a “significant omission” in the applicant’s documentation, as no mention was made of “long-standing” and well-developed proposals for Rossaveal, which has planning permission for a deepwater quay.

Rossaveal could assist Galway in having a “world class waterfront”, Mr Crockett said, acknowledging that road links would have to be upgraded and that there was no rail link.

Flood risk

Residents of Claddagh, Co Galway asked An Bord Pleanála to conduct an independent flood risk assessment which would draw on local experience.

According to Galway Bay Inshore Fishermen’s Association, there had been no formal consultation with its members and it expressed fears about the impact of the proposal on shrimp nursery grounds.

Among those expressing concern about the scale of the development were residents Susan and Sarah Curran. Susan Curran compared the impact to "filling in the lakes of Killarney" or "building a hotel on the top of Croagh Patrick".

Concerns about a “massive increase” in heavy goods vehicles were expressed by the Galway Cycling Campaign.

Businessman Enda O'Coineen of ENWest Terminal said that it would be "irresponsible" not to proceed with the proposal, with proper planning, as a "futuristic, clean, environmentally friendly port" was "critical" for the future of the west of Ireland.

The project's economic benefits were endorsed by IDA Ireland west regional manager Catherine Blewitt, and Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec) regional director John Brennan, while shipping agent Tom McElwain warned about the "demise" of Galway port if the project did not go ahead.

The hearing continues.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times