Two landmark announcements yesterday could have significant industrial spin-offs for Cork Harbour.

The planned transportation of gas imports from Texas for connection to the Bord Gais pipeline could ensure energy security into the future and provide competitiveness to key industries, in particular.

Also, the Port of Cork’s long battle to secure the long-idle Irish Fertiliser Industries (IFI) plant in Marino Point is at an end.

A deal has been struck with the receiver of the site, which has been mothballed for 15 years. Hundreds of people had been employed at the site after it opened in 1979 but it finally closed in 2002, with 220 jobs lost.

A new joint venture between the port authorities and Wexford-based Lanber Holdings (LB) offers a new lease of life to the strategically-located site.

Initially, it will be redeveloped for additional cargo handling.

Port of Cork chief executive Brendan Keating said the company had been waiting years to acquire the shoreline site. The co-owners, LB, with a major shareholding, he noted, had a huge track record in business development.

Acknowledging much of the plant was in a poor state of repair, he said the jetty “remained in a good condition” and in an ideal location, in ten metres of water enabling large ships to dock there.

Mr Keating admitted that the redevelopment of the site was “an ambitious development” but said it could be achieved by phased upgrading of buildings as businesses located there.

He said every business opportunity for the site will be explored.

“We will focus initially on cargo-handling and new trading opportunities, such as fertiliser and animal feed importation,” he said.

Mr Keating pointed out the purchase of Marino Point also offered significant further opportunities for expansion. “It will enable us to relocate business from the city quays and direct as much business to Marino Point as we can. It will, primarily, be a bulk terminal.

“It can be used for the importation of fertiliser and animal feeds, but we will also look for other import and export opportunities,” he said.

The great advantage of the Marino Point site is that it has a rail connection.

For many years, IFI used the spur line, connected to the Cobh-Cork railway, to transport ammonia around the country.

“The spur line would have to be reinstated but that could be easily achieved,” Mr Keating said.

He said it was the ambition of the Port of Cork and its business partner to “develop the site on a progressive basis as business opportunities arise”.

Mr Keating said the new business partners had received a number of inquiries from companies interested in relocating to Marino Point and they were considering their propositions.


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