Two years ago the planning appeals board rejected the port’s plans for a container terminal at the Oysterbank. Now, after reviewing five shortlisted alternatives, the port has decided the ideal location for the terminal will be adjacent to the ferry terminal at Ringaskiddy.
The port’s chief executive Brendan Keating said the company could also carry out some future operations at Marino Point, but would have to acquire the former IFI site before they could lodge any planning applications there.
Mr Keating said it was hoped to apply for permission for the cargo terminal during 2012 and, all going according to plan, start construction in early 2104. The terminal would take 14 months to construct. The project represented the first part of a 20-year phased plan to upgrade the port’s handling facilities.
“After the first phase further developments will follow a business case and capacity needs,” he said.
Mr Keating said that while the Tivoli terminal was still functioning well, it was coming under pressure and a new terminal was needed to deal with the ever increasing size of container ships.
He acknowledged that the Port of Cork would have to persuade Bord Pleanála to change its mind on Ringaskiddy being proper place for a deep water cargo handling facility.
The planning appeals board turned down the previous application on a number of grounds. Firstly, it felt too much pressure would be put on the N28 (Cork-Ringaskiddy road) with the number of lorries generated by the project.
In addition, it was felt that the Jack Lynch Tunnel wouldn’t be able to handle extra traffic and Bord Pleanála also believed a deep water cargo handling facility needed a rail connection.
“We were very perplexed at the reasons for the refusal and we will have to address that with Bord Pleanála,” Mr Keating said.
He said the National Roads Authority (NRA) had given a commitment to upgrade the N28.
The NRA has also indicated it is planning a major upgrade of the Jack Lynch Tunnell/Dunkettle roundabout interchange.
The Port of Cork chief executive acknowledged that while a rail link could be easily created to Marino Point, off the Cork-Cobh line, it was unlikely one would ever be built to Ringaskiddy.
However, Mr Keating said Ringaskiddy is already associated with considerable port activity and port investment.
The port authorities will be consulting with customers and stakeholders again on it plans in the coming weeks.