The publication of the Government's National Port Policy (NPP) in March 2013 has set the framework for the future development and ownership of ports in Ireland. The core objective of NPP is to facilitate a competitive and effective market for maritime transport services. NPP categorises the State commercial ports sector into:
- Ports of National Significance Tier 1 (Dublin, Cork and Shannon Foynes);
- Ports of National Significance Tier 2 (Rosslare and Waterford); and
- Ports of Regional Significance (Drogheda, Dún Laoghaire, Galway, New Ross and Wicklow).
This tiered categorisation of the sector is in line with revised European transport policy, the new Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Regulation. Under this Ireland's Ports of National Significance (Tier 1) fall into the European 'core' network while our Ports of National Significance (Tier 2) are in the European 'comprehensive' network.
NPP provides for the designated Ports of Regional Significance being transferred to more appropriate local authority led governance structures. This is in line with wider government reforms to transfer functions to local authorities where appropriate. The five Ports of Regional Significance retain important roles as facilitators of their regional economies and as centres of marine related amenity and tourism activities. Government recently approved the draft Scheme of the Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2014 which will provide the primary legislative framework to enable these 5 ports to be transferred by Ministerial Order to local authority led governance structures. The Ports of National Significance are our key international maritime gateways handling over 90% of all tonnage through our ports and of significance in terms of national competitiveness. All three Tier 1 ports have master plans in place covering the next 30 years. Ireland currently has enough port capacity to meet existing demand and, in keeping with NPP, Ports of National Significance will lead the response to future national port capacity. As such Dublin Port Company, with the required scale and experience, will lead any major future development at Bremore or any other location on the east coast should it ever be required.
Dublin Port Company published a masterplan in 2012 to guide the development of Dublin Port in the period to 2040. Dublin Port is committed in its master plan to utilise the existing footprint of the port to the greatest extent possible. The company currently has an application with An Bord Pleanála for the redevelopment of Alexander Basin that includes a proposal to infill an existing basin within the Port at Berth 52 and 53. However the previous proposals to infill significant parts of Dublin Bay under the Dublin Gateway plan, that were previously rejected by An Bord Pleanála, do not form part of Dublin Port's plans.
Dublin Port's master plan is endorsed within NPP and is available on their website Dublinport.ie.