Dublin Port expansion approval ‘ignores Brexit realities,’ group says

A sign points to Dublin Port. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
By Seán McCárthaigh

A leading business representative group in Dublin’s Docklands has claimed An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for a €320m project that will double the capacity of Dublin Port has ignored the realities of Brexit for exporters.

The Docklands Business Forum said the approval for the second phase of Dublin Port Company’s (DPC) ‘Masterplan 2040’ would also put a major strain on local infrastructure and greatly damage “Ireland’s most successful urban regeneration”.

The forum’s chief executive Alan Robinson said the development would consolidate DPC’s effective monopoly on exporting in Ireland and will further marginalise other ports around the Republic at a time when exporters needed direct routes to mainland Europe.

An Bord Pleanála has sanctioned a 15-year permission for the phased development works on a 165-hectare site including a new roll-on/roll-off jetty that can cater for vessels up to 240 metres in length and the redevelopment of a little-used oil berth for a deep water container berth.

Other elements of the project include a consolidation of passenger terminal buildings and the creation of a “heritage zone”.

DPC said its masterplan provides for Dublin Port reaching its ultimate capacity by 2040 without the need for any further infill of Dublin Bay.

The State-owned company said additional and longer berths and dredging of channels were necessary to facilitate the projected growth of the port over the next two decades and the berthing of larger vessels.

However, the Dockland’s Business Forum, which represents over 100 firms employing over 35,000 staff, said An Bord Pleanála’s ruling seemed to take no account of the realities of Brexit in terms of its impact on imports and exports.

“The ruling concerns itself more with marine mammals and wetland birds than it does with Ireland’s post-Brexit exporting reality,” said Mr Robinson.

“In a post-Brexit export environment, it makes little sense for our country to continue developing a port best positioned for Holyhead. Rosslare and Cork are more favourably located for exporting to the continent.” He also criticised the lack of consultation by DPC with businesses in the area and claimed the company treated the port area “like a fiefdom”.