18th December

No plain sailing for major cruise berth project at Dún Laoghaire

Independent councillor for Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown, Victor Boyhan, is calling for an oral hearing of a planning application for a major cruise berth terminal, lodged today by Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company.

The eight-year, €18m strategic infrastructure development, comprising a 435m pier with an underpass, ancillary site and landscape works, will accommodate ‘next generation cruise ships’, according to the Dún Laoghaire Stakeholder Group.

Dun Laoghaire June 2015

Dredging to create an approach channel and turning circle would be an ongoing process, a public meeting heard. Photo Gillian Mills

To qualify as an SID, a proposed development must first come within the scope of one or more of the classes outlined in the 7th Schedule to the 2000 Act, and comply with the thresholds contained therein.

In addition, the Board must come to the opinion that the proposed development, if carried out, would fall within one or more of the following:

• is of strategic economic or social importance to the State or the region in which it would be situate

• would contribute substantially to the fulfilment of any of the objectives of the National Spatial Strategy or any regional planning guidelines in respect of the area or areas in which the development would be situate

• would have a significant effect on the area of more than one planning authority

The opinion is formed by the Board at the conclusion of the pre-application stage.

Local governance

In mid-June, government green stamp of the Harbours Bill 2015, provides the legal basis for a Ministerial Order to transfer control of five ‘Ports of Regional Significance’ (including Dún Laoghaire) to local authorities.

“I believe it would be premature and unwarranted to pursue the construction of the €18m cruise berth facility, and on the basis that the Dublin Port Authority is also planning a similar application for Dublin City,” he said.

The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Masterplan identifies the need to develop new strategies ‘to ensure the long-term future of the harbour, in view of the declining importance of ferry traffic’.

According to Cllr Boyhan however, the Masterplan has not been incorporated into the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Development Plan. “An Bord Pleanala must have regard to the existing local authority development plan and make sure that all planning decisions are in full accordance with the principles of proper planning and sustainable development,” he said.

Cllr Boyhan added it was “clearly the intention” of the Planning Authority at some future time to commence a statutory Local Area Plan for Dún Laoghaire Town Centre that would include the harbour.

“This objective is set out in the County Development Plan,” he said.

“Proceeding with aspects of an aspirational Harbour Master Plan (which has not been the subject of any formal consultation process) in a piecemeal fashion at this time would be premature and contrary to proper planning and sustainable development for the area.”

In his submission to An Bord Pleanála, Cllr Boyhan is seeking "professional expertise" to comment on the impact the project would have on the coastal environment, noise, water, air pollution and the harbour structure itself during the construction phase and thereafter.

“Dún Laoghaire Harbour is a ‘protected structure’; this proposal needs to be fully assessed for impact on existing sailing and marine activities, as well as established harbour users operating successfully within the harbour.”

Gerry Dunne, CEO of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company however believes the project puts the harbour in a “prime position” to attract cruise business.

“As a harbour, Dún Laoghaire has been mandated by government to exploit its potential as a marine leisure facility. Winning and developing cruise business is a central part of our work in this regard.”

At a public meeting in April, the cost of €18m to complete the project was challenged by a retired ship captain and master mariner who said a more realistic projection could be fourfold: “Dredging of the approach channel and turning circle would not be a “once off” cost. Tidal currents will continuously backfill the channel, requiring ongoing maintenance dredging at significant cost. Who’s going to pick up that tab?” he asked.

NOTE:

Application documents including the Environmental Impact Statement and Natura Impact Statement can be inspected during the public opening hours for a seven week period commencing July 9 at ABP office, 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1 and DL/R Co Co County Hall, Marine Road, Dún Laoghaire or on www.dlcruiseplan.ie.

Submissions or observations may be made ONLY to ABP during the seven-week consultation period, relating to:

1) implications of the proposed development for proper planning and sustainable development of the area concerned

2) likely effects on the environment of the proposed development if carried out

3) likely significant effects of the proposed development on a European site if carried out.

Submissions/observations must be accompanied by a fee of €50 and must be received by ABP not later than 5.30pm on August 27, 2015.

The full notice is printed in the latest issue of the Dún Laoghaire Gazette. See also DLHC’s downloadable proposal: the http://dlharbour.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Cruise-Public-Consultation-30-03-2015.pdf

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