Tuesday 20 November 2018

Cork harbour to get €1bn 'Sydney of Europe' makeover

Cork Harbour
Cork Harbour

Ralph Riegel

This is the first image of how Cork harbour will look after a massive €1bn makeover that will transform it from an industrial eyesore, into one of the world's great maritime and tourism centres.

Cork ranks as one of the world's five great natural harbours and, in the 19th century, was arguably the most important port for Britain's Royal Navy as it controlled the Atlantic approaches. In the early 20th century, Cork harbour was also one of the world's busiest cruise liner ports and was associated with such famous ships as RMS Titanic, RMS Lusitania and HMS Dreadnought.

Cobh Harbour was the last mooring of the Titanic before she set sail for the open Atlantic in 1912,never to return. The White Star Line office, where tickets were bought for the ill-fated sailing, is now a museum and heritage centre based around the massive liner.

But over 100 years of under-investment and problematic industrial projects has left Cork with a depressing harbour legacy.

Now, under a landmark redevelopment programme championed by Marine Minister Simon Coveney, the aim is to transform Cork into the 'Sydney of Europe' by the end of 2018. Two of eight separate projects that form part of a total investment of €1bn are already underway.

These include the €40m clean up of the old Irish Steel/Irish Ispat site on Haulbowline Island in the centre of Cork harbour. The €40m plan to redevelop Spike Island as an Irish-style Alcatraz or Robben Island tourist development is also underway.

The other six parts of the project - including a new multimillion cruise terminal for Cobh, and the Port of Cork's new €100m deepwater berth at Ringaskiddy - are currently at planning stages.

Almost 100 new jobs were announced this month for the Irish Maritime & Energy Resource Cluster, which aims to exploit wind and wave energy as well as maritime conservation projects.

Minister Coveney said the massive clean-up operation at Haulbowline - Ireland's most toxic landfill site after half a century of steel production - is Ireland's number one industrial-environmental priority given a looming EU deadline.

He told the Sunday Independent: "Getting this aspect right will be crucial to the overall success of the project and ensure that the entire Haulbowline Island site can thrive and prosper into the future." Cork Chamber of Commerce say the successful redevelopment of the harbour will provide an economic engine for the region for generations to come.

Meanwhile, Cork County Council claim the site of the former prison on Spike Island has the potential to attract up to 100,000 tourists a year.

Sunday Independent

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