LIMERICK Docks should remain as a working port and should not be relocated in the view of consultants preparing a major development plan for the estuary from the Shannon Bridge to Loop Head.
In a presentation to members of the City Council’s economic development and planning committee, Sheila Downes, a senior scientist with RPS, said Shannon Foynes Port Company also intended expanding dock-related activity at what was an “underutilised asset”. But alternative uses for land not considered essential to the running of the port should be explored, she said.
Six years ago, members of the City Council fiercely opposed proposals by Shannon Foynes - the Limerick Dockland Initiative - to close Limerick Port and redevelop the area with high-rises.
Committee member John McInerney asked Ms Downes to clarify what she meant by “dock-related industry” and whether RPS was recommending Limerick remain open to shipping.
“The port is to remain. It will absolutely not relocate but stay as it is,” Ms Downes said.
This, she added, was also the current position of Shannon Foynes Port Company, which in its new masterplan commits to keeping a working dock in the city.
But Shannon Foynes owns 15 hectares of land in and around the docks which are not considered by the port company as core port assets - and for which alternative uses should be explored.
Cllr Diarmuid Scully told Ms Downes he was glad to hear that Limerick Port would be retained.
“There was a proposal before us a few years ago to shut it down and were it not for the stand taken by this council, we could all now be looking at a huge ghost estate instead of the working port we have today,” he said.
Cllr Jim Long said members were “willing to drive forward the asset of one of the greatest rivers in Europe, which is totally underutilised”.
A presentation on the draft estuary plan takes place in Foynes community centre from 4.30pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday, January 30 as part of the public consultation process.
The draft plan is also available online at www.shannonestuarysifp.ie