A Port of Cork-led consortium’s purchase of the former IFI site at Marino Point could have huge benefits for Cobh.
Almost all of the town’s industrial jobs have been lost in the past 30 years, with Cobh’s road infrastructure now in need of significant upgrading.
A proposed initial €10m redevelopment of the site will bring construction jobs and additional permanent jobs when finished.
The town’s last huge industry, IFI, was based at Marino Point. It initially opened at Nitrigin Eireann Teoranta in 1979 and was taken over eight years later by IFI in a joint venture with the British-based Imperial Chemical Industries. It closed in 2002 with the loss of 220 jobs.
Local Cllr Sinead Shepperd said reports of the consortium takeover were very welcome. “This is amazing news for the town. We haven’t had any significant industrial development for years. It will give us a real boost and it will be good for local businesses,” she said.
Port of Cork chairman John Mullins said consortium members had already held pre-planning discussions with council officials and had expressed a concern about Belvelly Bridge, the sole road connection into the Great Island.
The bridge is old and tidal flooding has forced its closure on a number of occasions.
A lot of container traffic is transported from Marino Point using the rail connection, and there will undoubtably be more HGV traffic generated at Belvelly and the Fota Rd.
Cobh municipal council chairman Cllr Anthony Barry said the proposals “will hopefully strengthen our case for the redevelopment of the Fota Rd and the bridge”.
“The road is in a very poor condition and the consortium’s arrival could be the catalyst to get it upgraded.”
A number of firms are set to be located in the 114-acre site. Port activities there will be dedicated to take oil, agri-feed, and fertiliser traffic.
A spur line connects the site to the Cork-Cobh railway and the consortium intends to utilise this to transport biomass freight. Mr Mullins said this rail connection was a vital infrastructure for future port operations.
A special bulk ammonia train ran to IFI Marino Point and to Arklow until the 1980s.
Marino Point will give the Port of Cork more options ahead of its planned move to relocate container traffic from Tivoli and concentrate it at Ringaskiddy where the company is to carry out a €100m upgrade of cargo handling facilities over three phases.
It is expected that the first phase of the Ringaskiddy port redevelopment project — which includes a 200m-long berth and new container yard operational — will be completed by 2018.
An Bord Pleanála decided to allow phases one and two, which includes a new 300m pier, to proceed before a motorway is opened between Cork and Ringaskiddy.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland has the development of that road as its second priority after the upgrade of the Jack Lynch Tunnel/Dunkettle intersection.
Mr Mullins said that there would be “a soft commissioning of Ringaskiddy” as each of the shipping lines will be gradually moved there from Tivoli and the city quays “over a period of six months”.
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