A long-standing blot on the landscape of Cork Harbour will be no more by mid-2018 with a major overhaul of Haulbowline Island set to commence this year.
The remediation work will see the conversion of the unsightly East Tip waste site into an expansive People’s Park, with further remediation at the site of the former Ispat/Irish Steel factory site.
Marine Minister Simon Coveney said the €61m remediation project will transform the island “from a real environmental scar on the landscape” into a resource that the public can enjoy.
He said it will result in a substantial boost to marine and leisure tourism in the area, as well as improvements to the Irish Naval Service base, located on the island.
This will include the restoration of three large listed cut-stone buildings to their former impressive state.
“These three landmark buildings, which were part of the old naval base and were also office accommodation for the steelworks, have fallen into disrepair over the years,” said Mr Coveney.
“To prevent further deterioration... I have asked my officials to bring forward immediate proposals for consideration by the Government on how to weatherproof the structures and undertake necessary measures to safeguard these heritage assets for future generations.”
He said restoration would involve installing new windows and roofs.
Mr Coveney said all the necessary legwork to allow work commence in 2016 had been done over the past two years, including securing an EPA licence, a full foreshore licence, and full planning permission “without a single objection”.
A “whole series of tenders” will be published shortly.
He said he expected the “major contractors” on site by next October, with “a lot of site clearing during the summer”.
When the transformation is complete, the public would enjoy a whole new landscape, with plazas, bird-watching platforms, running paths and plenty of parking, Mr Coveney said.
There are also “significant development possibilities” at the former Ispat site, he said, which would “be announced over time”.
Currently, the East Tip contains approximately 650,000m³ of steelworks waste that was deposited on a sand spit over a 40-year period. The demolition of the former steelworks also left a large site in the centre of the island that is unusable pending remediation.
Details of the project timetable were announced yesterday at a meeting of the Haulbowline Remediation Project Stakeholders group.
Mr Coveney said the project would provide “significant employment” for the duration of the works.
However, there was some bad news for harbour residents this week, with reports that Belgian company Indaver is to lodge a new planning application to build an incinerator in Cork Harbour.
The company was previously refused permission to build an incinerator in 2011.
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