MINISTER for Transport Leo Varadkar has this morning launched a 30-year masterplan for Foynes port, which it is hoped will create 2,000 new jobs and attract €2 billion in investment.
The ‘Vision 2041’ document, which was unveiled at an event at the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, maps a course that could see the port double its trade over the next three decades.
The first of the jobs will be created in 2015 when the infilling of the east jetty at Foynes port commences. The €12 million project is expected to create 150 construction jobs.
Launching the report, Minister Varadkar described Vision 2041 as “a realistic, achievable and ambitious plan” which will strengthen Foynes as “an important asset for the south west of Ireland, and for our national economy”.
At the centre of the plan is the expectation that Foynes will greatly benefit from a new fleet of 80,000 tonne ‘supertankers’ which are currently being ordered worldwide, in response to ongoing works to widen the Panama canal, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Foynes, with its natural deep water harbour, is the only port in Ireland which will be able to accommodate these new ‘supertankers’ in the future, which it is hoped will lead to a considerable boost in cargo.
The long-term job creation figures are based on an anticipated expansion in existing heavy industries in the Shannon Estuary, as well as planned projects such as the Shannon LNG gas terminal.
Minister Varadkar added that while plans to upgrade the N69 road to Foynes are likely to remain shelved for some time due to lack of funding, there is a possibility that the dormant Limerick-Foynes rail line could be re-opened in the short term using EU funding.
For more, see next week’s Limerick Leader weekend editions.