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Saturday 20 September 2014

Nature reserve given to capital as part of €200m port upgrade

Paul Melia, Environment Correspondent

Published 07/03/2014 | 02:30

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THE Dublin Port Company is to give more than 10 hectares of land on Bull Island to the city as part of a €200m upgrade of the port.

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The company plans to rebuild more than 3km of berths and create a deepwater channel stretching 10km out into Dublin Bay, allowing bigger cruise and container ships to dock in the capital.

Planning permission has been sought for the Alexandra Basin redevelopment project (ABR), which will be funded through borrowings and without state support. The project is part of the 2012-2040 masterplan, published last year.

Chief executive Eamon O'Reilly said it would redevelop the late-Victorian port into one suitable to meet modern needs for the next 30 years.

"This is about re-engineering old Victorian infrastructure," he said.

"The masterplan is a fundamental rethink, and a change in direction for the port. It focused on making best use of what we have today. This is the first major project of the masterplan and it is about one-third of what's needed up to 2040.

"This is probably the single biggest project in 200 years. It's important for the economy that Dublin can handle bigger ships. You don't want to make huge investments that aren't needed. The timing of this is about correct. If we leave it any longer, we will be chasing the economy."

CONTAINERS

The project involves rebuilding 42pc of the berths in the port, or 3km of the existing 7km, and increasing the depth from 6.5 metres to 10 metres.

In addition, a 10km channel stretching from the East Link Bridge to the Dublin Bay Buoy, 5km offshore, will be deepened from 7.8 metres to 10 metres. This will take six years.

Berths for cruise ships will be provided at the East Link Bridge, allowing passengers and crew to travel into the city centre by foot or on the Luas, while Alexandra Quay will be extended to 130 metres. Heritage works are also planned.

Cargo-ship capacity is measured in 20-foot container equivalent units (TEUs), and most entering Dublin Port are 1,000 TEU. When the works are complete, ships up to 3,500 TEU will be accommodated.

Turnover in Dublin Port rose to €68.4m last year, up 4.7pc. Profit before tax was up 15pc to €22.8m and the company is debt-free. It paid the State a dividend of €15m in 2013.

Mr O'Reilly said no taxpayer support would be needed for the project.

Around 200 construction jobs would be created, and 320 full-time positions when the works are complete. No additional land is being reclaimed from the sea, he said, adding that most of the work would take place underwater and that the port would remain in use throughout the works.

The plans also include re-shaping North Wall Quay to provide a larger turning area for ships of up to 350 metres in length. A lead and zinc ore jetty operated by Tara Mines will be moved and the berth extended westwards.

A new two-berth jetty for container ships will also be built, and part of the port will be infilled at the mouth of the river, at Terminal 5, to allow longer ships to be accommodated. A total half-a-million tonnes of contaminated soil will also be removed.

As part of the community gain proposals, the land on Bull Island at the southern end will be passed to Dublin City Council. In addition, the port company will fund a €200,000 masterplan for the island and provide €1m for the creation of a visitor centre.

Bull Island was originally created as a result of Dublin Port engineering works in the 1800s after construction of the Great South Wall and North Bull Wall. The Port Company has owned the land since then.

Apart from building the visitors' centre, the use of the land for recreation is going to remain unchanged.

Details of the project are at the Port Centre, with open days to be held in Ringsend, East Wall and Clontarf between March 25 and 27.

A newsletter is being sent to 38,000 homes, and further details are at www.dublinportabr.ie.

Irish Independent

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