CRA requests Government to terminate the Dublin Port consultation process
This week, the Clontarf Residents' Association has written to key government figures to formally request the immediate termination of the consultation process that has been recently undertaken by Dublin Port Company.
This consultation would inevitably have led to a further planning application for an infill of a large part of Dublin Bay.
The letter has been sent to:
- An Taoiseach Enda Kenny,
- An Tanaiste, Eamonn Gilmore
- Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, & Innovation, Richard Bruton and
- Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Leo Varadkar
16th May 2011
An Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore T.D.,
Kildare Street, Dublin, 2.
There has been extreme disappointment and anger expressed over the past few weeks at two public gatherings in Clontarf in relation to the latest plans by Dublin Port Company to seek to infill parts of Dublin Bay.
The basis for this anger centered on the timing of the new announcement (just months after the previous application was refused) and the extent of the new plans which now greatly exceed the scale of any previous plan for the port. The arrogance displayed by the Dublin Port Company in its utter disregard for the previous decision is simply breathtaking and we are calling on the government to intervene as a matter of urgency.
Specifically, we would like to formally request that the government instructs the Dublin Port Company (a semi-state body answerable to this government) to immediately cancel its consultation process and to not set in motion another such process for a minimum period of 5-10 years. We request this for the following reasons:
1. It is the stated policy position of the two government parties (Fine Gael & Labour) that no further infill of the Port is required for the foreseeable future and will not be supported by either party. It beggars belief therefore that a government controlled body should launch a consultation plan that sets in train a planning process that is in direct contravention of the stated policies of government parties.
2. In order to respect that the decision that was arrived at just last year in relation to an almost identical proposal - in fact, a proposal that was smaller in scale than the new plan being put forward. This was a lengthy process with the bulk of the costs being borne directly or indirectly by the Irish taxpayer. All stakeholders had a chance to participate and make a submission. A decision was arrived at in due course by An Bord Pleanala, a vital organ of the State, yet this decision is now being challenged by a new plan that is even wider in scope.
3. In order to show that this government believes that the opinions of the people matter. The tolerance levels of the Irish people for undemocratic processes, private meetings, lobbying, Freedom of Information exclusions etc. are at an all time low. We are looking for evidence from this government that times have indeed changed and that a new more transparent, democratic era is upon us where the views of the people are sincerely listened to by our public representatives.
4. While it was our view that the previous application should have been refused on a number of grounds, as supported by the Planning Inspector who presided at the Oral Hearing, the specific reason for the refusal related to the effect that the infill would have on the Proposed Special Protection Area in Dublin Bay. Well just for clarity, this Proposed SPA still exists! We checked yesterday and it's still there and unlikely to be going anywhere in any of our lifetimes.
5. It seems wrong-headed that a single port in Ireland should be making a solo run in relation to a future strategy that affects the entire island and has a direct knock-on effect on other ports. At a minimum we would expect to see more 'joined up' thinking that would involve a strategic discussion involving all of the Irish ports with a view to taking a more holistic view of capacity, transit, environmental and other factors as outlined in the recent McCarthy report. Is this not a more cohesive and common sense approach?
6. Finally, there is unlikely to be any economic analyst in Ireland that would agree that a 5-10 year moratorium on a further application in any way threatens the future of Ireland's economic recovery plans. The capacity that the Port achieved during the boom years is unlikely to be relived in that timeframe and in any case we believe (as do many other parties) that the Port has substantial excess capacity beyond this to sustain it for many years to come.
One last point we would like to make is that, over the term of the last government, the citizens of the state grew very tired of TDs and Ministers who kept kicking for touch claiming that decisions being taken by quangos and other supposedly state controlled bodies were beyond their control.
The relationship between the Dept of Health and the HSE was a particular case in point. Without commenting on the specifics of the HSE issues, the recent decision by your cabinet colleague James Reilly, TD to wield ministerial power in a way that it has not been exercised for many years is refreshing. The Irish people need to see more of this.
Selfishly, we believe that the issue in relation to Dublin Port Company provides another opportunity for the government (and specifically the Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport) to exert its authority in a positive way for all of the reasons set out above.