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Fishery Harbour Centres

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 28 April 2021

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Questions (1165)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

1165. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some fishing vessels are unable to gain access to Howth Fishery Harbour Centre to land their fish due to heavy siltation at the entrance to the harbour; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that dredge plant is sitting idle in Howth Fishery Harbour Centre; if his Department plans to dredge out the harbour entrance to improve access for fishing vessels to land fish while the dredge plant is on site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22213/21]

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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.

The Fishing Vessels referred to do not normally use Howth Fishery Harbour Centre as a berthing location and were advised that, due to their size, they were at the upper limit of the harbour's reception capacity.

The plant and machinery currently in situ in the harbour are hired in by the main contractor for the Middle Pier Project. This project includes the construction of 134 linear metres of new quay wall, limited dredging of a new berthing pocket, stabilisation and reclamation of land on the Eastern side of the Middle Pier to create additional workspace for Fishing vessels and their attendant operational maintenance and loading requirements.

These works are stopped under current Government COVID-19 restrictions and will reopen once permitted. 

The 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. The possibility of a dredging project has been under consideration for some time. 

The project will involve the dredging of circa 240,000 cubic meters of dredge material and reuse of material in land reclamation. The land reclamation area will provide a mix of recreational public access green areas, slipway access to the water for small craft and provide areas for business, harbour operations and transport.

My Department tendered for a Consulting Engineering practice on 3 October 2018 to bring the project through the planning, environmental permitting and design phase and should a decision be made to progress the project, this consultant will also be responsible for the supervision of onsite works.

The project will require Planning Permission, an Environmental Impact Assessment Report and a Waste License. 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.

As part of the planning process, my Department has recently completed a Public Consultation process and the closure date for submissions was Friday 9th April 2021.

Following the collation of information received during the consultation process which is currently underway, it is hoped to submit an application for planning permission in May 2021, with the required EPA licensing process to follow after grant of Planning Permission. It is expected that the planning and permitting phase could take at least 12 months.

As is the case with all developments in the six Fishery Harbour Centres, any future decision with regard to initiating a full dredging project in Howth FHC will only be considered on the basis of available exchequer funding and competing national priorities and must follow the necessary public procurement guidelines.

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