COUNCILLOR Ian Lynch has hit out at a lack of investment in Clare and a failure to make proper use of the Shannon Estuary.
In a letter to Deputy Pat Breen, Councillor Lynch stated, “I see a recent announcement that the Government is seeking preclearance for freight from the port of Limerick, making the port of Foynes a shipping hub for Europe.
“While the announcement is a welcome one for the region, it again shows the Government’s lack of commitment to County Clare and long-term foresight to maximise the Shannon Estuary’s potential. It’s hard to imagine why the Government would limit such a positive prospect to a port that is restricted for vessel turnaround and draft. This is even harder to imagine when the Shannon Foynes Port Authority controls the shipping to the second-deepest water port in Europe at Moneypoint but yet it remains undeveloped.”
He feels the estuary is West Clare’s best hope of economic recovery.
“The Shannon Estuary is underutilised in terms of shipping. The deep-water capacity at Moneypoint and Cahercon presents quite possibly the only viable and realistic opportunity for West Clare to attract industry and large-scale employment, which is much needed in the area.
“The issue is further compounded with the ESB’s control of the current deep water port facility. On many occasions I have raised the issue at council level to be informed by the then ESB management that both the landmass and the jetty are of national strategic importance and essential for the running of the station. This is something that I cannot accept. Yes, both are of national strategic importance but not solely for the operation of the power station.
“The jetty infrastructure is strategic infrastructure for the state in terms of shipping ability and it needs to be utilised. Other than political will, there is no reason that the jetty could not be managed in tandem with the power station’s operations. In fact, some minor civil work alterations could easily rearrange the access to the jetty providing separate travel routes for station and jetty operations.
“The restriction on the use of the jetty is quite evident at present where the construction of a windfarm taking place at Moneypoint were refused access via the jetty for the delivery of the turbines and were forced to travel by road. It is just unimaginable that such an asset is not being maximised.”
Councillor Lynch’s letter to Deputy Breen concluded, “The benefits from the development of Clare ports ties in with your current role as Minister of State for Small Business and Enterprise. I am urging you to raise this issue at a national level to ensure that any developments at Foynes Port include the expansion and development of the Clare ports and the maximising of the existing deep water port at Moneypoint.”