#dlharbour – Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company has unveiled a proposed €18m plan to facilitate some of the world's biggest cruise liners inside the harbour walls. A Public consultation will open on the plans for the new cruise berth facility next Monday.
The ambitious new plan is to regenerate the harbour following the loss of the HSS Stena car ferry between Dun laoghaire and Holyhead in February. There is currently no commerical traffic coming in or out of the harbour but a total of 22 cruise ships are expected at the harbour this Summer, bringing up to 100,000 passengers and crew to the east coast port.
The development of the new cruise berth facility is essential to allow to build on the success to date to bring even more vessels and passengers, according to the harbour company, a state owned commerical entity.
The plan will involve the construction of a new quay wall and dredging of the harbour to facilitate ships up to 300 metres in length, (twice the length of the former HSS ferry) which cannot be currently accomodated anywhere else in Ireland other than Cobh in Cork Harbour on the South coast.
The plan is being unveiled this week to harbour and town interest groups including yachts and boat clubs and sailing schools over the course of 20 presentation meetings, according to Afloat.ie sources.
A new 435–metre quay wall be built in the middle of the harbour in front of the east marina breakwater to facilitate cruise ships.
If the plan goes ahead the expected construction period is expected to take 15-18 months. Dredging is expected to be to a depth of 10.5 metres to accoomodate the massive ships.
Members of the public and harbour stakeholders are being invited by the Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group to submit their views on plans for the development.
The two week public consultation process will open next Monday (30.03.2015) and is being launched in advance of an expected planning application to An Board Pleanala for the project. The planning application will be made by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company on behalf of the Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group.
The cruise industry is an important and growing sector of the tourism market. Cruise ships are getting bigger in size, offering more facilities to passengers, but requiring deeper water and longer berths of accommodate them. Over 50% of new ships currently on order are over 300m in length. At present Cobh is the only port in Ireland that can accommodate these vessels. If facilities are not put in place, Ireland risks losing out on the expanding cruise tourism market.
Under the Planning and Development Acts, the cruise berth facility is regarded as strategic infrastructure and the planning application must therefore be made to An Bord Pleanala. It is expected that a finalised planning application and Environmental Impact Statement will go to An Bord Pleanala the end of April / early May 2015. Responses from the public and stakeholders during the consultation process will be taken into account when finalising the application to An Bord Pleanala. When the final application goes to An Bord Pleanala, observations and submissions may be made by members of the public and certain statutory bodies.
Speaking in relation to the launch of the consultation process, Gerry Dunne, CEO of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company said: "The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Masterplan, published in 2011, identified the need to develop strategies to ensure the long term future of the harbour, in view of the declining importance of ferry traffic. Development of cruise business was identified as one of the opportunities to be pursued. In addition, Dun Laoghaire is designated as a marine tourism port under the Government's National Ports Policy and the development of the cruise business fits into this framework.
"Dun Laoghaire will have its most successful cruise season ever in 2015, with a total of 22 ships expected, bringing up to 100,000 passengers and crew to the harbour. However the development of the cruise berth facility is essential to allow to build on the success to date and to bring even more vessels and passengers to our town.
"The expansion and development of the cruise business offers significant economic benefits to Dun Laoghaire and the surrounding areas. These would include expenditure by disembarked passenger and crew; payments to tour operators by cruise companies and purchases by cruise ships from local supplies while in harbour.
"This is a hugely exciting project for Dun Laoghaire and the members of the Cruise Stakeholder Group are anxious to hear the views of the public before finalising our application to An Bord Pleanala. Full details of the proposals will be available on the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Website from Monday next at www.dlharbour.ie.