The proposed expansion of Galway Harbour would take eight years to complete and cost €126m, an oral hearing into the plans has heard today.
The hearing was told that the current harbour for the city was severely constrained by a facility which is no longer fit for purpose.
Eamonn Waldron of Tobin Consulting Engineers said Galway Harbour Company had been developing new plans for several years as it was currently operating with severely restricted access, a tidal and gated harbour, an entrance channel that is too shallow and with limited dimensions and “uneconomic” vessel size capacity.
The current inner harbour is controlled by dock gates that are tide dependant and can only open for two hours twice a day.
He said the proposed extension would address all the constraints and would “provide for the international cruise liner business, accommodate marine leisure and amenity and tourism, upgrade fishing facilities and facilitate the economic growth of the region.”
The new plans include a new 216 berth marina, fishing pier, commercial quay, deep water docking facility, access roads and rail link. An area has also been reserved for a helipad for search and rescue services.
The majority of the existing Harbour activities will be relocated to new quays, jetties and yards located at the Galway Harbour Extension.
The extension would be developed on approx 27 hectares of reclaimed lands to south of the existing business park at the harbour. This is a candidate Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protected Area.
Construction of the full development would take 8 years to complete with Stage 1 planned over a three and a half year period.
Engineering hydrologist Anthony Cawley told the hearing the development would have a negligible impact on flooding and water pollution.
He said the development was predicted to reduce wave height and potential flooding for the Claddagh Basin. He said the greatest flood risk to the development and neighbouring areas was from coastal flooding adding the effect of the development would be ‘miniscule’.