My Department assumed responsibility for remediation works at Haulbowline Island on behalf of the Irish Government in 2012, primarily in order to comply with the terms of a CJEU judgment (Case C-494/01) under the Waste Framework Directive concerning the East Tip site. Funding for the remediation project is currently provided to my Department, in accordance with the specific conditions set out by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, on an annual basis up to the completion date of the remediation works.
The East Tip works are the most significant element of the remediation project. In the period up to 2017 expenditure was focussed on preparing for and securing the necessary planning and waste licence consents for the East Tip remediation and upgrading the island infrastructure in anticipation of works. Following the signing of contracts in July 2017, the remediation of the East Tip commenced. By the end of 2017 just over €13m had been spent on regularising the planning and licensing requirements, engaging in preparatory works and completing necessary site investigations amongst other elements. With the bulk of the East Tip remediation works having been completed during 2018, the expenditure on the project currently stands at €23m. I visited the site in December 2018 and I understand that there are some minor finishing works on the site to be completed early this year and the access road leading into the site is also being upgraded.
While the priority has been remediation of the East Tip, work on assessing a suitable solution for the former steelworks factory site has also been advanced in preparation for the next phase of the remediation project. Detailed site investigations have been undertaken and the preparation of an application for planning consent has also been advanced. The Government has decided that the Minister for Defence will be the ultimate owner of Haulbowline Island, in keeping with the main occupancy of the island, being the headquarters for the Irish Naval Service. Any remediation solution for these areas will need to be cognisant of their likely long term use. The Department of Defence has advised that it has engaged specialist engineers to examine the areas in question in order to explore the potential of these areas for naval operations in the future which will inform and direct remediation works in the first instance. Information from site investigation studies and assessments to date has been made available to the Department of Defence to assist in this work.
With regard to the opening of a public park on the island, I understand that Cork County Council has expressed a desire to open a public park at the East Tip site on completion of remediation works and has received agreement in principle from the Department of Defence for this. The relevant opening date will be a matter for those two bodies to determine.