A significant part of the Port of Cork’s €100m redevelopment plan for Ringaskiddy could go ahead without a major upgrading of either the Dunkettle interchange or the N28 national primary road.
The view is expressed by the county council’s senior staff who compiled a report for Bord Pleanála, due to make the final decision on whether to approve the port’s expansion plan.
But councillors were urged yesterday, following a lengthy debate, to reject the management’s claims amid concerns that local residents were not given sufficient prominence in the report.
Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) said the plan was premature as the Dunkettle interchange and the N28 Cork-Ringaskiddy road would need to be upgraded first, otherwise extra HGV traffic generated by the project would lead to safety issues.
In 2008, Bord Pleanála rejected a similar, but larger, plan from the Port of Cork for expansion at Ringaskiddy, citing the poor road infrastructure and lack of a rail connection as major stumbling blocks.
However, council officials believe phases one and two of the three-phase project could be developed before the road upgrades.
Phase one includes building improved access roads within the port’s Ringaskiddy East facility and the construction of new berths there. Phase two includes an extension to the existing deepwater berth at Ringaskiddy West.
But council planners believe the N28 and Dunkettle interchange upgrade would be needed if phase three were to go ahead.
Other proposed works include an additional quay wall and floating linkspan to accommodate RoRo traffic at the container berth and a multi-purpose berth at Ringaskiddy East.
The council’s chief executive Tim Lucey said officials had put in a number of conditions, in the event of approval by Bord Pleanála, which would address any residents’ fears.
Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Ind) said she had read the report and it did not address residents’ concerns about noise, dust, visual impact and impact on wildlife, fisheries and tourism in the area.
The councillor said she had compiled a separate report outlining such concerns and secured agreement to have it included along with the council’s official submission.
She was particularly critical the council’s own environmental directorate did not include figures relating to earlier residents’ complaints about excessive noise generated at the port’s current facilities in Ringaskiddy.
Mr McGrath said the council’s report “seemed quite favourable” and as the port authority had a number of pre-planning meetings with council officials it would probably be optimistic of a positive outcome. But he remained adamant it should not proceed until the roads were upgraded.
Calling for a vote, he secured the support of FF and some Independents but the matter was defeated 30–18.
Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG) reminded fellow councillors the port was a major “economic driver for the entire county” while his party colleague Cllr Michael Hegarty said it was essential the N28 was upgraded to facilitate the full port plan development aimed at bringing more growth to the region.
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