THE lack of suitable boating infrastructure in Kilrush and Kilkee is stunting growth opportunities in West Clare, according to a local councillor.
Councillor Ian Lynch has estimated the value of the Kilkee Dive Centre is worth €250,000 for the seaside resort, while up to €500,000 could be generated through new marine-related developments in Kilrush.
He has suggested Clare County Council could assist with a funding application for a multi-departmental approach to try and reap the full potential of private boating.
Clare County Council has stated that, in a time of constrained funding, a very strong evidence-based case needs to be made to supply any investment applications.
Councillor Lynch believes Kilrush and Kilkee are in ideal locations to maximise the private boating industry and while they are located close to each other, they would be competing for somewhat different markets.
He noted the pier in Kilrush is lacking access facilities to accommodate pleasure craft and this combined with a lack of a suitable launch slipway, decreases usability of the estuary from Cappa.
The pier in Kilkee, he claimed, has massive potential for both the tourism and fishing industry but said the pier infrastructure appears to be more of a breakwater than a mooring pier.
“To accommodate boat launching and to protect the coastal road from storm damage, a low sloping slipway could be constructed with breakwater adjacent to the road, offering coastal protection and access for boats.
“Kilrush has a boat repair and building facility located within the marina and the provision of a suitable launchway would greatly increase the boat industry in Kilrush,” he said.
If the pier infrastructure is developed to accommodate mooring and vessel embarkation and disembarkation in Kilkee, he feels it would bring massive benefits to the area.
Acknowledging that Clare County Council does not have the funds to carry out such a project, he noted OPW funds will be for coastal protection works. However, if a multi-departmental approach is taken, on the basis that extending the pier and increasing its breakwater capacity might provide coastal protection for Kilkee, combined with the tourism and fishing industry benefits, this could prove to be worthwhile strategy to pursue, he claimed.
The same approach could be taken in Kilrush. “The private boating industry had an estimated value of €600 million in 2007 in Ireland. Even with the economic decline, West Clare would be in a great position to maximize financial benefits if sufficient infrastructure was available.
“I appreciate wave analysis and environmental studies would be required prior to any application for funding,” he said.
Director of services, Ger Dollard, confirmed the council has received a number of requests relating to potential economic development and tourism opportunities at piers throughout the county.
“In a time of constrained funding a very strong evidence-based case needs to be made to support any applications for investment. The issue of environmental and other considerations also must be fully assessed. The preparation of such feasibility studies can be quite costly.
“The council is currently concentrating on dealing with the impact of the January/February storms as well as a new €6million pier development at Doolin,” he added.
“The council will keep the suggestions in mind in the event that funding schemes become available to prepare detailed feasibility studies.”