A new approach to coastal management in Cork Harbour was unveiled by Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs, when he launched a new Management Strategy for the Harbour in Cobh, Co. Cork.
Cork Harbour is a unique resource and presents very real management challenges associated with, for example, flooding, water quality, industrial expansion, environmental protection, marina development and recreational usage. This Strategy is based on a voluntary partnership between key management agencies and local stakeholders - including Port of Cork, Irish Naval Service, Local Authorities, Government Departments, Chamber of Commerce, Fáilte Ireland, community development agencies and the IDA.
The aim of the Strategy is to bring all those involved in the development, management and use of Cork Harbour together in a framework which encourages the integration of their interests and responsibilities to achieve common objectives in a sustainable manner. Development of the Strategy - and its subsequent implementation - will put Cork Harbour at the forefront of coastal management practice in Ireland.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Martin said - “What is significant about this Strategy is that it is endeavouring to pull all the strands together - and, I think if we were honest, we were fragmented in the past in terms of approaching development of the Harbour.”
The Minister referred to the dramatic changes of what were iconic industrial features of the Harbour in recent times, with the closure of ISPAT and IFI. "I take up the point that the Strategy represents a historic opportunity to realise a different future of Cork Harbour, which integrates the different functions of the Harbour. As a Government Minister, I wish to both promote and profile Cork Harbour as being the centre for education, training and research in relation to all things maritime” - he added.
The Strategy is the culmination of over three years work, co-ordinated by the Coastal & Marine Resources Centre (CMRC), University College Cork and the Planning Policy Unit in Cork County Council, as part of an EU Interreg Project - COREPOINT (Coastal Research & Policy Integration).
Commenting on the launch, Jeremy Gault, Deputy Director CMRC & Corepoint Project Manager, expressed his delight that the Minister for Foreign Affairs had agreed to launch the Strategy, which is of relevance to anyone with an interest in the sustainable management of Cork Harbour.
He said - "Producing the strategy has been an exhausting - but worthwhile - task that would not have been possible without the support of the joint co-ordinators of the Planning Policy Unit of Cork County Council." He paid tribute to the members of the Cork Harbour Forum and the Strategic Advisory Group for their time, energy and commitment in bringing this Management Strategy to fruition.
In addition to the Strategy, an Action Plan will be developed for the period 2008 to 2011, based on priorities identified from the Strategy document. This will form the next step in the implementation process and funding has already been secured to facilitate this through an additional EU project.