Call for Ryan to engage with Dublin Port over plans
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he wants Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Dublin Port to engage with the State-owned company’s masterplan after the Green Party leader outlined “significant concerns” with the final phase.
It includes constructing a new bridge over the River Liffey, as well as the largest container terminal in Ireland.
“What has to happen here is Minister Ryan really needs to engage with Dublin Port, sit down with them and try and find an agreed way forward,” the Taoiseach said.
“I think he does make a very valid point around rail based port developments, the need for more space for nature, and particularly indeed the opportunity of using some of the land in Dublin Port to provide much needed affordable housing.”
Minister Ryan said the project “does not appear to advance the objectives” of the Government’s climate plans.
In a letter to the board, Mr Ryan said he is “troubled” that the plan “reflects a continued reliance on unsustainable models of maritime trade and logistics that run counter to our national climate, circular economy, housing and biodiversity objectives”.
The main elements of the plan
Mr Varadkar said he thinks “there is a pathway forward here and I would be very keen that Minister Ryan and Dublin Port, which is an agency under his remit, should sit down and try and agree a way forward that makes sense for everyone.”
The Taoiseach said he is “in favour of the expansion of Dublin Port, so is he [Eamon Ryan] by the way, but I also want to see other ports expand.”
“I’m very keen to see a major expansion of Rosslare, of Cork, of Foynes, I’d like to see them expand much more than Dublin for lots of different reasons,” he said.
“We do need more ports investment in Ireland, both because of increased trade and also what we need to do when it comes to offshore renewables, I would like to see the bulk of that port expansion actually not happening in Dublin.”
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Minister Ryan also cited “growth assumptions” that he said “require closer examination”, including the port’s projections for tonnage growth, which he said “far exceed those set out for Dublin in the draft Ports Capacity Study”.
The letter added that the 3FM project “does not provide for the expansion of rail freight at Dublin Port” and that the plan consolidates a system that is “completely reliant on road access”.
Mr Ryan also said although the port has been engaging with the Land Development Agency about delivering affordable housing on State land, that he is “frustrated at the slow progress to date” and he wants to “define with certainty the future use of the three blocks of port lands”.
The minister is also concerned over the use of the land in the area between the former Irish Glass Bottle Company site and the Irish Water treatment centre for the storage of haulage containers, which he said “would block the expansion of the Poolbeg nature reserve into the same area”.
“That is not the best use of this most sensitive site,” he said.
‘Pie in the sky’
The Irish Road Haulage Association has described the Ministers comments as pie in the sky and flawed.
IRHA President Eugene Drennan says that Dublin Port is due to reach capacity by 2030 and as more than 70% of what enters Dublin Port stays within 90 kilometres, rail transport, he says, is not the answer.
“I think its very poor judgement, I think this is pie in the sky stuff,” he said.
“You can’t pick and choose because the south Dubliners don’t want to overlook the port or because he wants more seagulls.
“International report have said for decades now that rail does not work efficiently over short journeys.
“And irrespective of the distance the goods coming into Dublin, 60% of them only go 40 kilometers or 25 to 30 miles. So trucks will be still needed for that.
“Rail does not deliver into the individual factories or the individual workplaces and 75% of the goods into Dublin go approximately 50 miles or 60 miles, again, trucks will be needed.
“The EU supported railheads in the 80s and they dismantled them and scrapped them in the noughties because they’re inefficient, didn’t work and were underused.
“As regards housing in the port area. It shouldn’t be there. It’s the one last major commercial end of Dublin.
“Any of the international cities of Europe, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Athens, they all have port areas and the mind them very well because the supply chain chain is vital to commercial supply and putting houses into the port area is a sticking plaster under housing.
“Putting houses into the commercial area is wrong.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister Ryan the port’s current masterplan to double capacity by 2040 is not sustainable.
He said the port already handles around half of all traffic in and out of the country.
Minister Ryan said he did not see that level of growth as “feasible or tenable” or in line with Ireland’s climate or other targets.
He said: “We cannot see our roads continue to be clogged, emissions continue to rise and an ongoing projection of just doubling everything in a way that is not sustainable.”
Minister Eamon Ryan speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland
The minister also reiterated his concerns about the provision of housing and the plans for the Poolbeg peninsula.
Asked whether he was speaking for himself, or the Green Party, as minister, or for the Government, Mr Ryan said he was “speaking as Minister for Transport and is in constant touch with his colleagues on what we’re doing on our transport strategies”.
“I’ve got great Government support for investing in Cork, Rosslare, Shannon/Foynes, Waterford ports, so that we won’t just see all the development in the east coast of the country.
“I have a responsibility as Minister for Transport to make my views clear, particularly when it comes to the provision of housing in public lands … yes Government is absolutely committed to take action there so that we use public lands to address our housing crisis.”
In response to the letter, Dublin Port Company said it “notes the minister’s comments and looks forward to engaging further with him in this regard”.
The proposed Greenway at the front of the port centre
It added: “The 3FM project is consistent with the Dublin Port Masterplan 2040, which was first published in 2010 and has already seen planning secured for two other major capital projects.
“Dublin Port is fully committed to the sustainable development of its assets in line with its statutory responsibilities and the national priorities and we will take all views and feedback into account as part of this process.
“The masterplan, including the 3FM project, is fully aligned with EU policy, national policy, regional policy and local policy.”
Dublin Port has said it hopes to have the 3FM project completed by 2040.
With additional reporting by Fergal O’Brien and Samantha Libreri