A senior council planner has expressed concern that the proposed move by the Port of Cork of its container terminal from Tivoli to Ringaskiddy farther down Cork Harbour should not take place before a major upgrading of the road network.
Cork County Council acting senior planner Noel Sheridan raised the issue of upgrading the N28 for extra container traffic to Ringaskiddy in a report prepared for Cork county manager Martin Riordan, presented to this week's council meeting.
The proposal to transfer the container terminal from Tivoli in the upper reaches of Cork Harbour to the Oyster Bank in Ringaskiddy is part of a €160 million plan to transfer all Port of Cork operations downstream.
In his report Mr Sheridan said the planned move was consistent with strategic planning for the Cork region, and the land use and zoning objectives for land at Ringaskiddy.
However, he said the development should not become operational without the planned upgrading of the N28 to dual-carriageway status to take the extra traffic.
The Port of Cork has applied to An Bord Pleanála to relocate its container terminal and its roll-on, roll-off facility from Tivoli downstream to Ringaskiddy.
The new facility will cover 37 hectares, including 18 hectares of reclaimed land. It will involve the dredging of the sea bed to a depth of 13.5m, the creation of almost 800m of quay wall, and the installation of container cranes 80m high.
According to figures provided by the Port of Cork, the port has the second largest volume of trade in the Republic. The move is necessary as Tivoli has limited capacity, which is likely to be reached by 2010/2011.
Among the constraints at Tivoli are limited vessel size and vessel numbers, tidal restrictions on larger vessels, poor road access and a trend towards bigger container vessels which Tivoli cannot handle.
The master plan for the Port of Cork envisages the full development of all port activities at Ringaskiddy by 2026. However, this would see a major increase in heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), which would rise from 15 per cent of traffic in 2011 to 53 per cent by 2026.
Mr Sheridan said the traffic volumes were such that upgrading the N28 to dual-carriageway was required, which would also bypass Ringaskiddy and Shanbally.
He noted that the National Roads Authority (NRA) had given no timescale for such upgrading.
"It would not be logical to allow the port development proceed without certainty that the planned upgrade of the N28 will take place," said Mr Sheridan, adding that an environmental impact study (EIS) submitted by the Port of Cork noted the possibility even after upgrading of delays at the Jack Lynch Tunnel.
The Port of Cork has plans to make Ringaskiddy a European hub port with the capacity to handle 600,000 to 800,000 containers. However, the proposal has met with opposition from local residents and a number of groups in the lower harbour area.
The Irish Times