Tuesday 7 August 2007

Port of Cork faces legal action over terminal plan

THE Port of Cork has been threatened with legal action in the European courts over its plans for a multi-million euro container terminal in the lower harbour.

The port is planning to move its container port operations at Tivoli to a new, larger site at Oyster Bank in Ringaskiddy.

But several local groups representing lower harbour residents and sailing clubs have combined to criticise the project.

They have cited concerns about noise and visual impact and said the lower harbour’s valuable sailing amenity would be lost if the project goes ahead.

They also claimed the project is now almost twice the size of what was first proposed.

Passage West town councillor Marcia D’Alton said the port’s plan could not be seen to support the Cork Area Strategic Plan’s visions for tourism and amenity development in Cork Harbour. She said residents are due to examine the project’s environmental impact study soon and would then decide their next course of action.

But she confirmed that depending on the outcome of the planning process, residents are considering mounting a legal challenge through the EU courts.

The €160 million project will involve the reclamation of 18 hectares of land to a distance of almost half a kilometre from the existing Ringaskiddy shoreline.

The port company plans to erect four 70-metre cranes along the water’s edge and store hundreds of containers in five-high banks on the new site.

The new terminal,together with a multi-purpose roll-on/roll-off berth, will be able to handle twice the volume of its Tivoli terminal, which is fast reaching capacity.

Work is expected to be carried out in two phases. Phase one will cater for 300,000 container units, while phase two will complete the facility allowing it to cater for 600,000 units.

The port’s planning application, which is due soon, will be dealt with by the State’s Strategic Infrastructure Bill, designed to fast-track major infrastructural projects.

Representatives from Monkstown District Residents’ Association, Monkstown Amenity Association, Monkstown Bay Sailing Club, the Cork Harbour Environmental Protection Agency and Rushbrooke Residents joined forces at a public meeting last week to criticise plans of port representatives and their consultants RPS.

Cork Harbour Environmental Protection Agency representative Charles Hennessey said residents who had been supportive of the port’s plans were dismayed that the scale of the project was twice what was originally committed to.

Monkstown Bay Sailing Club spokesman Dion Barrett said his members have grave concern for the future of sailing in Monkstown Bay if the project goes ahead.

Rushbrooke resident Bobby Kahn, who lives across the harbour from the proposed site, said high noise levels already carry across the water.

The new container terminal would be twice as close to residential areas because of the huge area of reclamation proposed, he said.

The meeting was told that Blackrock residents living across the water from the Tivoli terminal compound and Tivoli residents have complained about noise coming from that compound.

Residents said given the fact that the Ringaskiddy compound would be twice the size of the Tivoli compound, they would expect twice the nuisance.

The meeting also heard that accidents, such as the dropping of a container, would not be subject to statutory noise limitations.

Irish Examiner

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