The Port of Cork’s plans for a €100m redevelopment of its cargo-handling facilities at Ringaskiddy have been hit with a further delay.
An Bord Pleanála has written to the company instructing it to submit a revised Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and screening assessments which will have to be put in place before it can consider approval.
This includes the impact of the proposed dumping of dredged material necessary to undertake the Ringaskiddy project.
An Bord Pleanála said it considers this to be an activity directly connected to the proposed development and its impact was not properly assessed in the EIS the company originally submitted.
In addition, it wants the resubmitted EIS “to address the potential in combination effects” arising from all relevant permitted and proposed plans and projects in the vicinity of Ringaskiddy, including the permitted development of a 74-berth marina in Cobh, which was not acknowledged in the EIS.
The Port of Cork has been instructed to have the revised EIS submitted to An Bord Pleanála by February 23. The company had expected a decision on its planning application by the end of last year.
Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton, who attended the lengthy An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the project at the Cork Airport International Hotel last September, said she expected the revised EIS would have to be reopened to public consultation.
“If it is not, it should be, because it is likely to be significant,” Ms D’Alton said, adding, however, that it would be reassuring to residents in the lower harbour that some of the concerns they expressed at the oral hearing look as though they are being investigated by An Bord Pleanála.
“Cork Harbour is a strategic national asset,” said Ms D’Alton. “It performs so many functions in terms of residential, recreational, amenity, educational, industrial, commercial, tourism, heritage. These often competing functions are delicately balanced and so it is entirely appropriate that Bord Pleanála would take due care in assessing the Port of Cork’s significant proposals for Ringaskiddy.”
In 2008, An 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.
However, it has indicated it would allow two of the new planned phases — constructing two piers of 300m and 200m — to go ahead before a motorway is opened between Cork and Ringaskiddy.
This was flagged because the Port of Cork promised to restrict hauliers to bringing and removing containers to off-peak hours only. However, the port will not be able to extend its deepwater berth at its bulk terminal until the motorway is open.
More than 26,000 vehicles use the N28 daily, many of them heavy goods vehicles. Last month, the NRA unveiled a preferred route for the €100m-plus motorway to the N28. It will run from the Bloomfield interchange, on the South Ring Rd, joining a new interchange at Shannon Park, near Carrigaline, before bypassing Shanbally and Ringaskiddy village.
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