Lukewarm greeting for Clondalkin freight plan

 

THE proposal to create a national freight distribution park in Clondalkin, west Dublin, has received a mixed reaction, with industry representatives expressing scepticism.

The Irish Exporters Association said the proposal to move freight by rail from Dublin Port to the facility would lead to increased transport costs and would fail to have a significant impact on heavy traffic in the city centre.

Mr Colum MacDonnell chief executive, criticised the proposal for not addressing roll on, roll off freight, which accounts for the bulk of Dublin Port traffic.

All freight at the facility would suffer an additional handling charge of between £30 and £50, he added, a cost which could be passed on to consumers.

The Road Haulage Association said the proposal was too narrow in approach, would will affect only one in five heavy vehicles passing through Dublin. Criticising the promoters for not consulting hauliers about the plan, the association's president, Mr Jimmy Quinn, said the facility would result in extra costs and delays. He said the solution to the problem of freight traffic in the city was the Dublin Port access tunnel.

Mr Harry Hines, a director of Irish Express Cargo, a Santry based freight company, said the Clondalkin facility was likely to become a white elephant.

"It's just a very elaborate way of creating jobs, like back in the last century when people were paid to build walls and roads going nowhere. Basically you're just slowing down exports," he said.

Dublin Port would probably lose business as a result of the plan, he said, adding that the movement of freight to west Dublin would cause traffic problems.

The solution to the problem of heavy traffic in the city centre without penalising freight companies was the creation of easier access to the docks, he said.

"In handling freight these days, everything is urgent."

The Chartered Institute of Transport in Ireland, an independent body for transport professionals, cautiously welcomed the proposal. The institute's chief executive, Mr Philip Mahony, said the project could turn Ireland into a centre for "logistics excellence". He warned that its viability could depend on assessments by shippers and hauliers.

MA Joan Burton, a West Dublin TD and Minister of State, said she hoped detailed discussions with the promoters will eliminate some of the misgivings expressed by the Road Haulage Association. She said it was absurd that all traffic through Dublin Port went by road.

Mr Liam Lawlor, a Fianna Fail TD for Dublin West, said care had to be taken to ensure that Clondalkin did not bear the brunt of hundreds of vehicles travelling to the proposed park. He warned the project could result in the erosion of the green belt between the railway line and the Grand Canal.

The Marino Development Action Group welcomed the proposal, saying it would eliminate the need for a twin tunnel from, Dublin Port through the area.