Galway Harbour Company has received communication from An Bord Pleanála, which sets out the information required to move the proposal for the Galway Port extension on to the next stage of the planning process.
The multi million euro expansion of Galway Docks involves the reclamation of 27 hectares from the foreshore and sea bed and the relocation of activities to new quays, jetties and yards.
An Bord Pleanala has completed an appropriate assessment of the proposed development in accordance with the European Habitats Directive and, as anticipated, has invited Galway Harbour Company to confirm that it wishes the project to be considered for approval under Article 6of the Habitats Directive which is otherwise known as the IROPI process.
This allows for development at or near a Special Area of Conservation (SAC ) if the reasons for public interest outweigh the damaging impacts of that development.
The Galway Harbour Company will now liaise with appropriate state agencies, as recommended by ABP, with a view to establishing, in the first instance, the principles for identifying these compensatory habitats, and outline the environmental protection measures it could take to offset any negative effects the proposed expansion would have on Galway Bay.
The Board has indicated an eight week period for this initial phase of liaison.The President of Galway Chamber welcomed the news that the planning process has taken a major step forward.
Frank Greene said that the communication from An Bord Pleanála, is good news for the process and for Galway. “ABP has set out the information required to move the proposal for the port extension to the next stage. The Galway Harbour Company will now look forward to liaising with the appropriate state agencies to submit the information required regarding compensatory habitats in line with the integrity of the Galway Bay Complex Special Area of Conservation.’’
Mr Greene said that the chamber would continue its support for the port extension and would support Galway Harbour Company in this regard. “The port extension will facilitate the national development of our largest natural resource, the Marine; will create a marine centre for Galway city, county, and the region; will create a significant marine and cruise tourism centre, and will indeed create a new commercial and industry centre within the city significantly increasing employment recommended by ABP, with a view to establishing, in the first instance, the principles for identifying these compensatory habitats, and outline the environmental protection measures it could take to offset any negative effects the proposed expansion would have on Galway Bay.