A €350 million development plan for Galway harbour aims to move the port south on land reclaimed from Galway Bay.
The project aims to attract cruise liners into a transformed deepwater port, develop a new rail link and build up to 300 marina berths.
An “iconic” structure marking the port from sea approaches will be commissioned as part of the three-phase development, according to Galway Harbour Company.
Significantly, the harbour company intends to work with CIÉ on redeveloping the existing harbour area, and a local area action plan will be initiated as part of this, it says.
The three-phase plan has been prepared in advance of Galway’s hosting the first Irish stop-over for the Volvo Ocean Race. The Government has committed €8 million to Galway’s Volvo participation, and the event is expected to attracted 140,000 spectators and a worldwide television audience, with a prospective spend of over €40 million during the fortnight from May 23rd to June 6th.
However, no State funds are anticipated for the harbour project, which aims to qualify for strategic infrastructure approval with Bord Pleanála. Some 99 per cent of the new port will be built on reclaimed land and it is “vital” for Galway’s future, the company’s chief executive Eamon Bradshaw says.
First phase from 2010 to 2013 will involve reclamation using dredged material, building a new quay wall, the development of an extended rail link, the provision of new fishing berths and the development of a 177-berth marina.
The second phase will involve completing the marina and fishing berths, and building a new nautical centre and harbour office between 2013 and 2015. The final phase will involve providing an eastern marina with 110 berths, constructing public promenades to the east and west of the development and landscaping.
Inshore fishermen have been consulted, and initial talks have taken place with a number of stakeholders, the company says. It aims to fund the development through disposal of some of its existing portfolio, and it says it has already received Cabinet approval in principal.
The plan refines an initial €2 billion strategy presented in August 2006 to former taoiseach Bertie Ahern by a “vision” group set up for the port. This focused on moving the existing tidal port to deepwater, and was marketed as a “flagship” project for the west for the 2007-2013 national development plan.
However, An Taisce’s Galway branch was critical of lack of consultation, and said an overall plan for Galway docks was already a requirement in the Galway City Council development strategy.
Last year, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey published a Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2008 to permit the 10 State port companies to pursue a “robust commercial agenda” both in and outside the State and boost their commercial mandate.