Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (493)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

493. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when Howth Harbour will be dredged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8448/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar 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 the Department's Engineers. This report included vital information on the nature and amount of the material to be dredged.

The Department also appointed a Consulting Engineer 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 the concentrations of contaminants in the sediment to be dredged are such that while the material cannot be considered inert, it can be classified as non hazardous. This 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 ongoing in regard to exploring disposal options for the dredged material. It would be the Department's view that the material should be treated and re-used to reclaim much needed additional ground for Harbour use.

This project will require Planning Permission, an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and a Waste License. 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, this consultant 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 Centres, any future decision with regard to initiating a full dredging works project in Howth will only be considered on the basis of available exchequer funding and competing national priorities.