The Dublin Port Company Masterplan Review 2012 – 2040

Above: The cruise ship Saga Sapphire II passing the Poolbeg lighthouse.
Photo courtesy Robbie Cox.

The Dublin Port Company (DCP) Masterplan Review 2012 – 2040 went on public display at a series of information days which were held in Clontarf, East Wall and Ringsend, during the week February 13th – February 16th, 2017.

The Information Days were part of an ongoing consultation process which has already involved significant discussions with the local community and with statutory and non-statutory stakeholders, including customers, employees, and interest groups concerned with the port. Members of the public were invited to make submissions to DPC before March 7th in response to the Review.

The Masterplan Review sets out proposals for the development and operation of Dublin Port for the next 30 years. The principal objective of the project is to meet the growing demand for greater port capacity.

Economic recovery is well underway and the prospects for future growth are encouraging. Traffic at the port has risen sharply for the past four years and DPC are under pressure to bring infrastructure development projects forward to keep up with demand.

The challenges facing the architects of such a long-term plan are immense, with a number of tough, not always mutually compatible, goals to be achieved. It has to guarantee the continued safe operation of the port and allow for sustainable growth. It must assure customers of the port about future capacity. The needs of the local communities and issues around the environmentally sensitive shoreline have to be considered. It has to provide a context for future investment decisions and bring about increased efficiencies.

Development must be consistent with national and local planning frameworks and with national policies. In addition, plans for the port must be compatible with those for the docklands area, Dublin city and neighbouring counties, which are always subject to change.

DPC would also like to forge closer links between the port and the city. To this end, a number of recreation and amenity proposals, many of which were outlined in the Soft Values Strategic Framework, approved by the DPC Board in 2012, are included in the Review.

One such initiative, Riverfest, takes place on the Liffey over the June Bank Holiday weekend and is already a huge success with the public.

There are plans to enhance the visual impact of the port area and to soften its boundaries to the city by providing a public realm, which will include a new heritage centre and maritime garden at the Port Centre. There will be more waterside access, including pedestrian and cycle routes, designed to attract more visitors to the area. A number of arts and culture initiatives are also included in the Review.

DPC will continue to support local communities in the areas of education, sport and community events through the company’s CSR programme.

Mindful of environmental concerns and public opinion, DPC plan to optimise the use of current facilities and do not intend to increase the footprint of the port, which could possibly include landfill in Dublin Bay, bound to be a non-runner with the public. The company trust that this can be done by rationalising the use of existing lands and by recovering lands that are not currently being used for critical port activity.

The review outlines plans to augment the use of the lands on the port estate through rationalising the distribution and location of specific areas of activity such as ro-ro, lo-lo, ferry services, cruise ships, and storage areas, with necessary re-organisation of service facilities as required.

By its very nature the port has an impact on the surrounding ecological environment. Located close to a special Protection Area and a special Area of Conservation, provision for the preservation of these areas and wildlife habitats, which could potentially be harmed by the expansion of the port, are a critical part of DPC’s strategy.

Included in the review is a commitment to work with habitat and nature interests to ensure that the full resource that these habitats and areas provide for wildlife and for the wider public in Dublin are managed, controlled and supported. This will include an audit of the flora and fauna of Dublin Port to assist with the development and implementation of conservation, preservation and sustainability objectives.

Long-term strategies to manage traffic in and around the port are an important component of the review. DPC aim to develop a transport plan for the port estate in conjunction with the National Transport Authority and Dublin City Council. This will include the provision of public transport routes to serve passengers and those working in the port, the promotion of non-motorised sustainable transport modes, including cycling and walking as well as a commitment to maximise the use of rail transport for goods to and from the port. Provisions to re-route traffic within the port area and enhance the existing infrastructure to provide dedicated access and exit routes to port facilities, are calculated to ease traffic flows on the surrounding roads.

One exciting element of the review is the proposal to upgrade the port to accommodate much larger cruise liners than they routinely handle. The cruise liner business at Dublin Port has grown significantly in recent years and has the potential to increase further, bringing increased revenue to the local economy.

In 2016, 112 cruise vessels visited the port, a number that is set to increase to 130 in 2017. At present the cruise ships occupy berths that are better suited to cargo vessels and provide an unattractive location for passengers disembarking from the liners. New berths at the North Quay extension will facilitate passengers on cruise liners to access the city directly. The planned changes will facilitate the development of Dublin as a commencement port for cruises and ensure that the city is in a position to benefit from the continuing growth of this lucrative market.

In our next issue, NewsFour will bring you an update on the community’s reaction to the Masterplan Review. If you would like to see your opinion on the proposed changes included please let us know!

By Jennifer Reddin