Saturday 28 June 2008

Port reconsiders terminal after €160m plan veto

THE Port of Cork is considering scaled down plans for a new container terminal after its plans for a €160 million super terminal were shot down.

The board of the port company met yesterday to discuss its options after An Bórd Pleanála refused planning permission for the proposed new facility at Oysterbank in Ringaskiddy.

The project was one of the first processed through the State’s Strategic Infrastructure Bill system designed to fast-track large infrastructural projects.

But after considering its inspector’s report, compiled after a three-week oral hearing held in April, the board said the project should not go ahead because of poor road infrastructure and the complete lack of rail links.

It was the first project refused using the fast-track process. The decision is final and cannot be appealed.

Solicitor Joe Noonan, who represented the Cork Harbour Environmental Protection Agency, said residents are delighted their argument the project could never proceed on planning grounds was accepted.

Port chief executive Brendan Keating described the decision as a setback and said the port must be “vigorous and comprehensive with new proposals”.

“The Port of Cork is adamant the growth in trade needs to be facilitated by the port and the economy of the region is dependent upon the port’s infrastructure which must have the capacity to handle growing volumes of trade,” he said.

Cork Chamber president Joe Gantly said he was disappointed with the decision which he said will have a knock-on impact on wider economic development in the region. He called on the Government to invest in crucial transport links around the city.

His calls were backed by Fine Gael TD Deirdre Clune: “The idea that this development could have been approved without the N28 being first upgraded was always unlikely.

“The Taoiseach must now decide if the relocation of the Port of Cork is a government priority."

Irish Examiner

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