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Good news from An Taisce? According to the Irish Times, the Department of Transport has “decided not to proceed with the extension of the harbour limits (of Drogheda Port) for the present.” In a letter to the environmental charity (and prescribed body, under Irish planning law) the maritime division of the Department also said that “the most appropriate juncture for such an extension [of the harbour limits] to be considered would be after the proposal has been through the planning process”, still at its initial stages. An Taisce had objected to this extension.

As you may be aware, the proposal for a new deep-water port in the Bremore area, a joint venture between the Drogheda Port company and Treasury Holdings, had already been the subject of considerable controversy. The site marked for the port construction (so handsomely illustrated on the Drogheda Port website) was ‘smack on top’ of a complex of Neolithic passage tombs. An Taisce had expressed its opposition, a Save Bremore campaign was formed, and in February a spokesman for Treasury Holdings announced that they were belatedly considering an alternative location option, at Gormanston – also the site of a group of passage tombs.
The Department of Transport is not exactly known for bowing to archaeological pressure, however. According to Section 3(a) of the Harbours (Amendment) Act 2009 the Minister had the straight power to grant the extension, having regard merely to harbour capacity and navigational safety. Furthermore, the Department’s own Indecon Report advsies that; “Nothing should be done at a policy level to block either the proposed expansion of Dublin Port or the proposed development of Bremore at this stage.” So, why this decision?

It’s a curious one. Treasury Holdings, one of the ten largest property developers in Ireland, have had their bank loans taken over by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) and a question mark, although in their case (apparently) slight, must remain beside their continuation as a going concern. Uncertainty over the port’s ‘eventual’ location may also have been a factor, or the appropriateness of these proposed harbour limits, given that uncertainty. What would be the outcome of the Strategic Environmental Assessment, or of the planning process, for that matter? Were there too many imponderables, or just enough, perhaps, to make postponement of the decision seem sensible?

Bremore: The Planning Process

Bremore/Gormanston: An Taisce


May 2010

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