Wednesday 25 April 2018

Foynes port paves way for green energy expansion

Kathryn Hayes

SHANNON Foynes Port Company (SFPC) plans a €20m investment in constructing the only specialised quayside handling and storage area in the west to help support Ireland's multi-billion euro investment in renewable energy over the next 20 years.

The country's second largest port operation says the investment will also enhance amenities for existing port users.

Announcing the plans following a stakeholder and public consultation at Foynes yesterday, chief executive of SFPC Pat Keating said there was both an opportunity for and an obligation on the port company to develop facilities to help Ireland reach its enormous potential in the renewable energy area.

"Ireland has the ability to become one of the world's leading exporters of green energy over the coming decades and much of the infrastructure required for this will come by way of off-shore and on-shore projects on the west coast of Ireland," he explained.

"Right now there is no port along the west coast that can facilitate the handling and storage of the type of large-scale cargo for the wind, wave and tidal energy projects that will be concentrated on this side of the island.

"We plan to reclaim up to 2.4 hectares of quayside area to develop the type of set-down areas that this cargo will need.

"In addition to enabling us to facilitate and capitalise on the green energy sector growth, the reclamation works will also improve on existing facilities for current port users," he added.

The public consultation process at Foynes this week will form part of the Environmental Impact Study for both the Foreshore Licence and planning applications required for the project.

Shannon Foynes Port Company chairperson Kay McGuinness said that huge opportunities arise for the company from the green energy sector and that extending the quayside area at Foynes will benefit other port business as well.

"The current east jetty at Foynes constrains efficient harbour operations -- quite simply, we need more space. Reclaiming this land will significantly enhance our facilities and strengthen our business potential across all areas," Ms McGuinness said.

"This is a lengthy process but we are moving now so that as soon as large-scale energy projects for the west are at an advanced planning stage we will be in a position to immediately move to develop quayside facilities required in time to handle the cargo for these projects. Otherwise, with Foreshore Licence and planning permission taking two years and more to achieve, the unavailability of these facilities could seriously delay the projects," she continued.

According to the Port Company the proposal does not include constructing any other structures in the proposed reclaimed area.

Should any development be considered in the future then it would be subject to a separate planning application, the company said.

Irish Independent

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