DUBLIN PORT Company should consider moving its landmark oil storage tanks out of Dublin Port to create the extra space the company claims it needs for expansion, instead of attempting to reclaim 52 acres of the bay, Minister of State Seán Haughey told a Bord Pleanála hearing yesterday.
Mr Haughey, TD for Dublin North Central and a Minister of State for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said he believed the planning board could reject the infill plan on economic, environmental and social and recreational grounds.
Giving evidence before the planning inquiry into the project yesterday, Mr Haughey said portions of the port company’s land bank may be underutilised, including lands which he said were given over to non-port businesses which included the ESB.
Other parcels of land might be put to more efficient or better use and he added: “If consideration was given to moving oil storage facilities off-site, this may impact positively both on capacity and traffic volume within the port.”
The Minister told senior An Bord Pleanála planning inspector Brendan Wyse it appeared “entirely feasible” to retain Dublin Port in its current state “while accommodating any requirements for additional facilities in the development of a new port outside the city at an alternative site – Bremore for example.” Further capacity was also available at Greenore or Arklow, he added.
The developers of Bremore Port on the north Dublin/Meath border also spoke at the inquiry, citing objections to Dublin Port Company’s expansion plans.
A spokesman for Waterford Port told the inquiry it would not be in the interests of balanced regional development that Dublin be allowed to expand to a point where all of the State’s increase in damand over coming years could be accommodated in Dublin alone.
Consultant planner John Spain, for Bremore Port, said Dublin Port Company had not properly considered alternatives to the infill. He said the plan was premature in that it predated the publication of a strategic plan for Dublin Bay and he maintained the recent Indecon report on port capacity concluded there was “no imminent need or demand for the project”.
However, in a cross examination by Paul Gardiner SC for Dublin Port, Mr Spain acknowledged the Indecon report had concluded Dublin Port would run out of capacity by 2018. Mr Spain said he had been referring to the Indecon report’s finding that the State would not need additional capacity until about 2025.
Mr Gardiner also asked if it was the case that Bremore Port was located “at least 14km” farther away from target delivery premises around the M50 motorway, than Dublin Port.
Mr Gardiner also asked if the parent company of Bremore’s private sector partner was still in a position to finance the development; if Bremore had concluded a deal with Iarnród Éireann for rail access; and if it was intended to compete with the port of Belfast as well as Dublin.
Mr Spain said the issue of the stability of financial backers for Bremore was not relevant to the Dublin Port application. He said negotiations were in place with Iarnród Éireann over rail access and he agreed that Bremore Port would be farther from the M50 than Dublin Port. But he said Bremore would be competing with all ports serving the island, and was very well placed to compete with both Belfast and Dublin.
The hearing continues today.