Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has said that “significant commercial, technical and environmental risk” had influenced its decision to withdraw a planning application for a 30 million euro cruise liner berth in Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay writes Lorna Siggins
In a statement to Afloat, the local authority said that the cruise berth planning application, originally made by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, was withdrawn by the council on May 14th.
“A report to council in May 2019 advised of the significant commercial, technical and environmental risk associated with this project,” a spokesman for the council said.
"Tourism interests predict Dún Laoghaire will still be a popular cruise ship destination"
Tourism interests have predicted that Dún Laoghaire will still be a popular cruise ship destination, in spite of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county council’s decision.
An Bord Pleanála has confirmed that the application for an eight-year permit to construct a cruise berth facility in Dun Laoghaire was withdrawn last week.
Independent senator Victor Boyhan has welcomed the move by the local authority but has said that “questions need to be answered” on the entire cost of the plan.
An Bord Pleanála had granted permission in November 2016 for the controversial cruise ship berth but had restricted the size of vessel which it could facilitate to 250 metres.
The original planning application by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company aimed to accommodate cruise ships of up to 340 metres long, at a berth extending 435 metres.
The company had aimed to plan for the harbour’s future in the wake of Stena Line’s decision in 2015 to stop its ferry service between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead. This broke the 170-year old ferry link between Dun Laoghaire and Wales – a service Stena had run from 1995.
The ruling was challenged by the Save our Seafront campaign group in a High Court judicial review, and the application was referred back to the planning appeals board.
In July 2017, An Bord Pleanála relisted the application to allow” issues raised at the judicial review” to be considered, according to a spokesman.
This elicited a strong reaction from the Combined Yacht Clubs grouping in Dun Laoghaire, which described as “shattering” the re-opening of the application.
The harbour has since been taken over by the local authority, and several months ago councillors were informed that it had no funds for a proposed €5 million urban beach, a €51 million diaspora centre and a €30 million cruise berth facility.
A progress report to councillors indicated that about €1 million had been spent on the cruise berth plan, of which €250,000 was provided by the council.
Senator Boyhan said the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown county council decision to withdraw the planning application “makes absolute sense”, given that the appeals board had received over 150 objections to the project.
“It was a crazy idea that should never have got so far, yet initially council planners were very supportive of the idea,” Mr Boyhan said.
“If it went ahead, it would have destroyed the heritage harbour and its environs,” he said, adding that “people must be held to account” for large costs incurred.
Excursions Ireland, which handles cruise ship visits to Irish ports, said Dun Laoghaire would still be a “great destination for cruise vessels”, although larger craft have to anchor off the harbour.
“We’d love it to be developed, particularly now that Dublin Port has announced it will have to restrict the number of cruise ships it can take from 2021 onwards due to capacity constraints,” Excursions Ireland managing director Niamh McCarthy said.
“However, some operators actually prefer Dun Laoghaire, and it is a great destination for the more independent guests,” she said.