I propose to take Questions Nos. 7, 54 and 86 together.
It is my intention to give approval for Drogheda Port Company to enter into a joint venture agreement to develop a new port facility at Bremore in Fingal County, subject to enactment of necessary legislation. I am advised that an amendment to the Harbours Act 1996 is necessary to enable the port limits of the Drogheda Port Company to be extended to include Bremore and to enable me to convey approval of the joint venture agreement.
The joint venture proposal is in line with established ports policy. Subject to the necessary further feasibility, commercial and regulatory work, it also presents a unique opportunity to provide significant additional port capacity in a prime location on the east coast. It is intended to develop the new facility in a number of phases. The capacity of the first phase will be determined by the joint venture partners in the light of the further work referred to above, which has yet to be carried out.
Amendment of the Harbours Act 1996 will be necessary to enable the joint venture to be formalised, but the feasibility work I referred to can be put in hand in the meantime. More generally, the existing legislation is more than ten years old and requires updating. My Department has made substantial progress in preparing the heads of a new harbours Bill to further support implementation of ports policy and to update existing legislation. I propose to seek early Government approval for the drafting of the Bill and I intend to pursue its enactment as quickly as possible.
The joint venture will help to promote competition while relieving congestion at Dublin Port. This proposal is being advanced as a standalone project and is not dependent on, or linked to, any relocation of capacity from Dublin Port.
Earlier this month, Dublin City Council launched an eight week public consultation period on the report of its Dublin Bay study. That study's report looks at a wide range of economic, amenity, recreational and environmental issues linked to Dublin Bay, including the port area. The national development plan, NDP, indicates that the Government will undertake a comprehensive study of the role of Dublin Port, taking account of locational considerations, in the context of overall ports policy on the island of Ireland, wider transport policy, urban development policy, the national spatial strategy and national economic policy.
Dublin City Council has indicated that its Dublin Bay study is aimed at launching a public debate. The council will submit the findings of its report and any public submissions it receives thereon to me for consideration as part of the NDP study, which I intend to initiate shortly. I have no plans to issue a Green Paper on the future of Dublin Port.