Decision due this month on Galway Port redevelopment

A computer-generated image of how the new 'Port of Galway' would look.

An Bórd Pleanála has confirmed it has delayed making a decision on the planning application to redevelop Galway Harbour.

The oral hearing into the proposed €126 million extension of the harbour was held in January and a decision was due in April or May. However, the planning appeals board has confirmed that the decision date has been pushed back by several weeks.

“The decision on this case has been deferred,” a spokesperson said.

Asked why it had been deferred, the spokesperson added: “It’s the general complexity of the issues in the case.”

It is the first application in the State to use the ‘IROPI’ route, which would allow a significant infrastructural development on a designated European habitat on the basis of ‘Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest’.

An Bórd Pleanála planners heard evidence from experts during an oral hearing that lasted over two weeks earlier this year.

At the hearing, An Taisce and the Cladonian Mariner’s Community Boat Club both warned of the risks of more storm surges and flooding. But Engineering hydrologist Anthony Cawley told the hearing that the proposed development meets the guidelines for flood risk management and would not result in coastal erosion within the bay.

Birdwatch Ireland and Inland Fisheries Ireland also expressed fears about the potential impact of the development on birdlife, wild Atlantic salmon, and European eel.

Officials representing the Galway Harbour Company outlined the perceived need for the 85.4 hectare project, which is expected to take eight years to construct. The proposed four phase plan involves the construction of new deep water berths to the south of the existing port, a marina, and nautical centre.  Construction of the first phase has been estimated to cost €52 million.

Presiding Inspector Paul Caprani said the planning application was lodged with ABP in January of last year and attracted over 130 submissions, including a “significant number” from prescribed bodies.