Saturday, 1 November 2008

City officials will oppose plans to reclaim part of Dublin Bay

DUBLIN CITY management is to oppose Dublin Port Company’s plan to infill 21 hectares of Dublin Bay to expand its operations.

The port company has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission to reclaim the land using the Strategic Infrastructure Act, the “fast-track” planning legislation which allows developers of major infrastructure projects to bypass local authority processes.

However, Dublin City Council will next week submit to An Bord Pleanála that the application is “premature”, without adequate justification, and could cause flooding.

In a report to be put before city councillors on Monday, assistant city manager Michael Stubbs says the proposal contravenes the city development plan and is premature, pending the outcome of studies from the Department of the Environment and the Department of Transport.

It also contravenes the council’s own Dublin Bay study, Mr Stubbs states.

“It is the opinion of the Planning Authority that the long term vision and potential of the Dublin Port area is that outlined in Option 7 of the Dublin Bay study – ie a full relocation of the port,” his report says.

The council has concerns in relation to the water, drainage, natural heritage, visual impact and transport effects of the development. Its drainage division in particular feels the proposal “will have significant impacts on flooding risk”, Mr Stubbs points out.

The city management does not need the imprimatur of councillors to lodge an objection with An Bord Pleanála. However, the submission is likely to find favour with the majority of councillors, who have already endorsed the council’s Dublin Bay study.

Councillors and local TDs including Finian McGrath are among more than 100 objectors who have made submissions to An Bord Pleanála on the application.

Fine Gael councillor and chair of Dublin Bay Watch Gerry Breen welcomed the council’s opposition to the development.

“This proposal in its various forms, going back some 40 years, is unwarranted and has more to do with vested interests achieving land gain and nothing to do with the core port activities,” he said.

In his own submission to An Bord Pleanála, Mr Breen said the port company claimed port capacity was reached in the 1970s. The tonnage shipped through has increased dramatically since then without causing problems, he said.

“The recent CSO figures show that the tonnage for the first six months of 2008 has declined versus 2007. This downward trend is unlikely to be reversed in the next few years.”

Mr Breen also pointed out that Minister for the Environment John Gormley was shortly to ratify an order designating the lands at issue as a Special Protection Area to protect wild birds.

Dublin Port Company said the increase was essential to ensure it can fulfil its statutory duty to handle port trade. Measures would be introduced to address possible negative impacts, it said.

The Irish Times

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