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|July 10th, 2009, 02:41 PM||#1|
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Port of Dublin
Dublin port builds up solid base
10 July 2009
THE port of Dublin is well-placed to ride out the current economic crisis, its chief executive confidently believes.
More importantly perhaps, Enda Connellan sees the port staying exactly where it is for the next 10 years — dismissing talk of any relocation outside the Irish capital. “No senior civil servant or politician has mentioned to me moving Dublin,” Mr Connellan says, adding: “But if it is decided by our lords and masters to move Dublin, I won’t stand in the way.”
The debate over the future of Dublin has rumbled on for decades and is currently the subject of a report for the government by Irish consultants, Indecon. It is due to be submitted shortly, but Mr Connellan, who heads the Dublin Port Co, says he does not expect it to contain any surprises. A parallel but broader study into Dublin Bay is also considering the future of both Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ports.
The debate, however, has recently been re-energised by the proposal from a joint venture between the port of Drogheda and property developers Treasury Holdings to build a new €300m ($417m) port at Bremore, north of Dublin. The deepwater port — catering for container, ro-ro, bulk and passenger traffic — would have an annual throughput of 50m tonnes a year, more than Dublin’s current 30m tonnes. Hutchison Westports, the European arm of the Hong Kong port group, has been hired to develop and operate a “terminal master plan” and hydrographic surveys have been undertaken, with 2013 the target date for opening.
Mr Connellan, however, dismisses Bremore as a “property play” or a “property distraction”. He points out that Dublin has invested €250m over the last 10 years, while the government spent €1bn on building the tunnel taking Dublin port traffic under the city’s congested roads to the M1 motorway — evidence of a long-term commitment to the port’s future in the Irish capital.
More immediate concerns for the port executive include the collapse in trade that has seen tonnage in the first half of this year fall by 16%. That followed a full-year 4% decline in 2008 and Mr Connellan forecasts revenue this year will be down by €8m on the 2007 total of €70.5m.
Greenore, the port Dublin jointly owns with One51, the Irish private investment group, suffered a 35% fall in throughput last year — the steeper decline being attributed to its focus on bulk cargoes. A planning application has been made to expand the northeast port with a container terminal and ro-ro berth, but Mr Connellan says “the impetus for getting things done has waned”.
Despite the falls in throughput and revenue, the state-owned but self-financing and privately-managed port is still expected to make a profit and pay a dividend to the Irish state (it paid €4.32m last year.)
“Over the good years we had some strong rationalisation, so we are in a strong position,” the DPC head points out. The wage bill has been slashed from an “unsustainable” €21m in 2002 to the current €13m, enabling unitised terminal users’ costs to be nominally lower than they were in 1988.
With a further 20% reduction in costs across a range of port activities over the last 12 months, the port boss says: “ We are pretty well-positioned to weather the storm and we are keeping a constant watch on costs.”
He is also confident — “I am no doom-and-gloom merchant” — that the Irish economy can recover and is scornful of “uninformed comment” that the country is a tax haven and as such will suffer from the crisis-induced backlash against corporate offshoring.
|November 29th, 2011, 02:46 PM||#2|
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Dublin Port to defer plans to infill 50 acres
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
DUBLIN PORT has decided to defer its controversial plans to infill 50 acres of the inner bay for at least 10 years and make better use of its existing assets in the meantime, according to chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly.
In an interview with The Irish Times to mark the publication today of a draft masterplan for the port, he said the proposed infill at its eastern end – first mooted in 1988 – would not be needed until throughput looked like reaching 60 million tonnes a year.
He also dismissed Drogheda Port’s plan to develop a new container port at Bremore, in north Co Dublin. ´ “I genuinely don’t see it happening. The cost could be €500 million and, to make that viable, it would need 80 per cent of the turnover of every port on the island.”
Mr O’Reilly said Dublin Port had learned from consultations over the past 10 months that “one of the big concerns was creeping infill, and a fear that ‘we’re going to lose the bay’. This struck a chord with us because we don’t want to see the amenities of the bay destroyed.”
Thus, although the draft masterplan 2011-2040 includes the proposed infill, it would only be progressed through the planning process in the latter part of this period and would represent “the final imposition of the port” on the inner area of Dublin Bay.
“We need to be pretty prudent about investment and do things in bite-sized lumps,” Mr O’Reilly said. “There is no reason for us to do colossal projects that won’t be needed for 10 years or more. We can do things on a smaller scale, incrementally over time.”
“We now have breathing space because of recession,” Mr O’ Reilly added. “And I want to assure people that we will be doing everything we can to make use of the land we already have before we do any design for infill along the river [Liffey] and the inner bay.
“I am absolutely comfortable in my mind that we have what we need here for a decade at least,” he said. For example, a site on the west side of East Wall Road – “cut off by the Port Tunnel” – could be used to store imported cars, thus freeing up more space for containers.
Mr O’Reilly envisaged that plans for smaller areas of infill on the north and south sides of the estuary – including the development of historic Poolbeg Harbour as a heritage attraction – were likely to proceed first, before the larger, more controversial infill at the port’s eastern end.
He conceded that any large infill would be “problematic because of the high hurdles of European directives” protecting wild birds in Dublin Bay.
“One purpose of the masterplan is that all stakeholders will get a better understanding of the port and what we think should happen.”
The masterplan will be available for viewing from tomorrow at the Port Centre, on Alexandra Road, until December 2nd, or online at dublinport.ie/masterplan