DUBLIN City Council has admitted it is powerless to tackle noise pollution problems at Dublin Port.
The authority was responding to concerns raised by residents on Pigeon House Road in Ringsend, who say a container terminal near their homes is keeping them awake at night.
In a new report, the council said: "Gantries have been in operation on this site for a considerable number of years.
"In the period 1999 to 2002, extra gantries were erected. Planning permission was neither sought nor granted for the extra gantries." It added that "no complaint or query" was received about the additional gantries until October 2010.
"By the time the planning department was made aware of them, the seven-year statute of limitations for taking enforcement action had elapsed," the council said.
"There is no planning enforcement action open to the council in this matter."
The news is a blow to families who say they have had to put up with an unreasonable amount of noise from the facility.
The terminal, which is run by Marine Terminals Ltd (MTL), operates day and night.
A report compiled by Byrne Environmental for the residents concluded that the noise has "a very significant detrimental impact" on the householders.
Some 25 residents, who live in the Coastguard Cottages on Pigeon House Road, say they can no longer tolerate the noise levels at night.
MTL could not be contacted for a comment.
The Dublin Port Company said it was going to continue to use its "best endeavours" to find a solution to suit MTL and the residents. The gantry cranes operated by MTL are used to lift massive 40ft long steel shipping containers.
Consultants Fehily Timoney, who carried out a report on behalf of the residents, said the equipment generated noise that was "significantly above the guideline values for community noise to avoid sleep disturbance as recommended by the World Health Organisation".
Residents have even resorted to wearing ear plugs in order to sleep at night.
The dispute has gone on for over a decade and the residents say the amount of cargo coming into the port increased from 15m tonnes in 1997 to 30.5m in 2007.