Sunday 9 August 2009

DDDA at risk of massive losses on Ringsend site

An investment of more than €100 million by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority(DDDA) is at risk of being almost wiped out in the coming weeks.

The Environmental Protection Agency( EPA) is in the process of deciding on an application by Becbay, a joint venture between the DDDA and two property developers, to declare the former Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend, ‘‘clean’’ and ready for development.

The DDDA is a 26 per cent partner in Becbay, alongside developers Bernard McNamara and Derek Quinlan. They paid €412 million for the 25acre site in 2006. According to the DDDA’s 2007 annual report, it loaned the joint venture company almost €40 million that year to fund the cleaning up of the site.

Minutes of DDDA board meetings from last year, seen by The Sunday Business Post, show that the state agency has also made further loans to the joint venture firm. A DDDA spokeswoman refused to divulge the amounts, saying it was ‘‘commercially sensitive information.” She refused to comment any further.

However, a former EPA inspector has objected to Becbay’s application to have the site declared clean and alleges that significant environmental hazards remain on the site.

If the EPA agrees with his assessment, it will mean that the site cannot be developed at present. That would massively reduce the value of the site, which has already fallen significantly because of the collapse in the property market.

Such a move would undermine the finances of the DDDA. Its last published accounts show that it held net assets of €177 million.

However, informed sources say that its accounts for 2008 - which have been delayed since June, but are expected to be published next month - will show huge write-downs.

Much of the financing for the Ringsend project was provided by Anglo Irish Bank.

Anglo directors Sean FitzPatrick and Lar Bradshaw were both previously directors of the DDDA, although they resigned their positions earlier this year.

Sunday Business Post

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