‘Milestone’ agreement to clean up steel plant dump

A consortium has been appointed to transform the former Haulbowline steelworks dump into a multimillion-euro park and tourist attraction.

The site’s East Tip will be turned into a public recreational amenity including a walking/jogging circuit and picnic areas in what Cork County Council has described as a “significant milestone” in the island’s redevelopment. The council yesterday signed a contract with a consortium led by PJ Hegarty & Sons Ltd.

County Mayor Declan Hurley said the project “is hugely important from a local and national level”.

“We have come a long way with this and I am in no doubt that we will have a fantastic park for the people of Cork but will also offer another jewel in the crown for Cork tourism.”

The island, the base of the Irish Naval Service, was the location of a steelworks for 62 years until 2001. However, from the 1960s, the waste from the production process was dumped on a shallow sand spit extending eastwards from the Island.

In 2011, the government approved a remediation of the site, appointing the council as agents for the works. This process was hastened when, in 2012, the European Commission imposed a two-and-a-half year deadline for the cleanup.

In 2014, An Bord Pleanála approved plans to transform the reclaimed East Tip, which is 22 acres in area and contains about 650,000 cubic metres of waste, into an amenity including a carpark, playing pitch, walking/jogging circuit, picnic areas, and viewing points. That year also saw the securing of a foreshore licence, and the EPA also approved a waste licence application for the island, paving the way for yesterday’s announcement.

Marine Minister Michael Creed said the works would go on until late next year.

“I am delighted that the tender process for this crucial step has been successfully concluded and that we can now look forward to the core remediation work at Haulbowline Island being addressed,” said Mr Creed.

“We can expect remediation works will intensify from now until late 2018. There will be significant construction activity on the island, it will bring substantial benefits to the local economy and transform the island into a genuine national infrastructural asset.”

The cost of the remediation was put at €61m, but Department of Public Expenditure officials have warned the allocation would not meet the costs associated with the remediation and development.

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