Thursday 17 July 2008

Minister says taskforce will oversee future of Dublin Bay ports and lands

THE FUTURE of Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ports and the Dublin Bay lands is to be determined by a new taskforce announced by Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

The Dublin Bay Task Force, the creation of which was a commitment secured by the Green Party in the programme for government, has been mandated to deliver a master plan which will be a "sustainable vision" for the future use of the entire bay area, from Howth Head to Dalkey.

The taskforce, which has been given no deadline to develop the plan, is to conduct an analysis of the current uses of the bay and an examination of the potential impact of climate change. It will also make proposals for extension or revision of existing amenity areas and wildlife conservation areas, including the Dublin Bay special protection area (SPA).

It has been given a remit to examine economic activities in the bay, particularly the port industries, "including the scope for expanding, reducing or removing the existing Dublin Port facilities over time".

Dublin City Council, within whose jurisdiction the majority of the bay is located, has already published a draft plan for the future use of the bay. This study recommended that, to achieve the greatest environmental and economic benefits, Dublin Port should be moved outside the city.

Mr Gormley said yesterday that the removal of the port from the city was planned "at some future date", but that the future of the port lands would still be considered by the taskforce.

However, Dublin Port Company is a member of the task force and has already applied to An Bord Pleanála to expand its lands by infilling 21 hectares of the bay. Mr Gormley said the application was a matter for the board to determine and not himself, but he said he had made it clear that he would be expanding the SPA for wild birds to include the area the port company was seeking to acquire.

The task force includes Dublin city councillors; council officials from the city, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Fingal; representatives of the Dublin Port Company and Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company; representatives of the Departments of the Environment and Transport and the National Parks and Wildlife Service; environmental groups Coast Watch and Dublin Bay Watch; and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.

The Irish Times

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