The chairman of the Port of Cork says it is vital for the country’s economic future that An Bord Pleanála give the green light to the proposed €180m Cork-Ringaskiddy motorway.
Port chairman John Mullins was speaking ahead of the start today of an Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the project, which is envisaged will run at the Ambassador Hotel, Cork, until November 17.
The port authority is investing €75m in upgrading its container-handling facilities in Ringaskiddy and will only be able to achieve full operational capability there once the motorway is built.
The motorway will be built to handle what is predicted to be a 40% increase in average daily traffic and a leap in freight numbers from 700 to 3,900 trucks by 2035, primarily due to road freight transport coming in and out of the upgraded Ringaskiddy cargo-handling docks.
Mr Mullins pointed out that in the meantime, the port had planning restrictions in place because of increasing levels of road freight transport and he was “mindful” of any large volumes of HGVs passing through Shanbally village, and in particular close to its national school.
He said if the road is built there will be no traffic lights between Cork, Dublin, and Belfast.
“Container traffic currently using Dublin might be encouraged to switch to importing and exporting from Cork if the motorway is opened,” he said.
Meanwhile, the port authority has plans to create an International Shipping Services Centre (ISSC) in the Horgan’s Quay area, which is owned by CIÉ.
Mr Mullins said his firm has engaged in talks with developers, the Naval Service, shipping firms, brokers, and Cork City Council to develop and ISCC on that site. He said the project has the capability to attract 100 maritime-centric companies employing up to 3,500 people.
“We are setting up an advisory board to draw up a plan.
“It’s an ideal opportunity for us with Brexit looming. We could take some of the London [maritime services] activity and we will be testing the idea with shipping companies outside of the UK,” he said.
“We would also like to prepare a tax-designation status for the project.
“We have set up a coalition of the willing.”
They will target maritime logistics offices, financial services for shipping broker companies and ship leasing firms as part of the plan.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox