Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (986)

Thomas P. Broughan


986. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans for the dredging of Howth Harbour and in particular on reported plans to utilise the 225,000 cubic metres of dredged silt to infill and expand the Howth Harbour west pier on its western boundary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13701/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Howth Fishery Harbour Centre (FHC) is one of the six designated Fishery Harbour Centres which are owned, managed and maintained by my Department under Statute.

Siltation in Howth Harbour has been recognised as an issue for some time, and the requirement for a dredging project to restore adequate depth in the entrance channel and within the harbour is accepted. The Harbour was last dredged in the early 1980s.  A number of investigative and preparatory works and initiatives have been undertaken over the last few years in respect of a potential dredging project in Howth FHC.

A final site investigation report was received in October 2016 and has been assessed by my Department's Engineers. This report included vital information on the nature and amount of the material to be dredged. The Department also appointed a firm of Consulting Engineers in 2016 to advise on a number of possible developments in Howth, including a dredging project.  A final report was issued from the Consulting Engineers in late October 2017 which confirmed that, while the concentrations of contaminants in the sediment to be dredged are such that it is classified as “non-hazardous”, this classification means that dumping at sea will not be permitted, which in turn has a significant effect on the project cost.

Department Engineers subsequently met with Fingal County Council, to review possible operational and permitting requirements. Engagement with the Council is on-going in regard to exploring disposal options for the dredged material. The  Department’s view is that an option to re-use the dredged material to the west of the West Pier as part of the methodology for the project is the most effective and efficient option. It is estimated that circa 225,000 cubic metres of silt will need to be removed from the harbour in the event that a full harbour dredge is undertaken. It is also the position that if the option to re-use the material is not possible, the potential costs of the project increase significantly and the overall scope of the project would have to be re-examined.

The project itself will require Planning Permission, an Environmental Impact Statement and a Waste License which are being progressed. The permitting process is likely to take up to 24 months. A variety of factors will impact on the cost of a potential dredging project including the disposal options, overall scale of the project, and market factors.

The Department went to tender on the 3rd of October 2018 for a Consulting Engineering practice to bring the project through the planning, environmental permitting and design phase, and should a decision be made to progress the project, the consultants will also be responsible for the supervision of onsite works. The successful tender was commissioned for these works on the 19th of December 2018. 

As part of the 2019 Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme, I have allocated €100,000 for the continuation of the preparatory works for a dredging project in Howth as set out above. As is the case with all developments in the six Fishery Harbour Centers, any future decision with regard to initiating a full dredging works project in Howth FHC will only be considered on the basis of available exchequer funding and competing national priorities.