THE Dublin Port Company is to seek permission for a massive expansion of its operations which could see 52 acres of land reclaimed from the sea near Clontarf.
This morning, a formal application to infill the bay will be made to An Bord Pleanala under the Strategic Infrastructure Act despite two separate reports currently being compiled on the future of Dublin Bay and the port.
One from the Department of Transport will determine if the port should be moved to a new location, while a Dublin City Council document has already indicated that the port could be home to thousands of new homes, all close to public transport links.
Environment Minister John Gormley has also established a task force to outline the future of Dublin Bay, which will examine issues including the current location of the port, climate change and projected rises in sea levels.
Yesterday, the Port Company said the expansion was needed to provide additional capacity. Last year almost 31 million tonnes of freight and 1.3 milion passengers passed through the port, with profits at €29m, and the port company expects demand to increase over the coming years.
"This development will cater for greater demand as a result of the projected increases in population," a statement said. "Dublin Gateway will also provide deeper berths that will enable Dublin port to cater for the international trend towards larger, more efficient vessels that require deeper water to operate.
"The port is operating at near capacity and notwithstanding the current economic downturn Ireland needs to be prepared to deal with the upturn when it comes by having sufficient port capacity capable of handling the demands of an increasing population. The gateway project is also consistent with the National Ports Policy which states that ports are responsible for ensuring adequate in-time capacity to facilitate trade."
Permission for construction of a new quays along the southern and eastern edge of the 21-hectare site in the north bay near Clontarf will be sought, along with three new berths for ships.
A two-storey terminal, four 60-metre cranes and extension of the railway line to connect with the national network will also be built.
When the plans were first revealed they were heavily criticised by politicans, Dublin Bay Watch and environmentalists because of concerns about the impact the development would have on wildlife.