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Planning permission granted for Cape Clear pier works

Thursday, 7th March, 2013 2:51pm
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Planning permission granted for Cape Clear pier works

By Jackie Keogh

CORK County Council has granted planning permission for works to rectify a pier on Cape Clear Island that is in danger of collapse.

An island spokesman, Séamus Ó Drisceoil, welcomed the news that planning permission has conditionally been granted for the proposed remedial works, which will allow for the replacement of the Bull’s Nose breakwater, provide a new slip, and other works.

It was widely reported, last August, that a portion of the North Pier – which provides protection for the ferry terminal on Cape Clear Island – was believed to be in imminent danger of collapse.

On that occasion, Séamus Ó Drisceoil confirmed that the deterioration of the pier and a rocky promontory, known as the Bull’s Nose, had become ‘an increasing cause of alarm.’

The main purpose of the North Pier and the Bull’s Nose is to protect the rest of the harbour from the incoming seas and to provide a safe berth for boats during stormy weather.

‘Without it,’ Séamus said, ‘the rest of the harbour would be exposed to the sea and would be unusable except in very fine weather.’

The cracks in the Bull’s Nose began to appear about 20 years ago, and recently it was established that they are caused by the scouring, or undermining, action of the sea. It is this that is creating cavities beneath and within the pier itself.


Initial attempts to remedy the problem involved pumping liquid concrete through boreholes into the cavities in an attempt to fill them, but this proved unsuccessful. In fact, the undermining action of the sea is comparable to what is happening to the ice caps: they are being eroded from beneath.

Since 2008, the cracks have been expanding at such an alarming rate that the Department of the Marine erected a danger sign on the pier and sought to prevent berthing and public access for safety reasons.

If the problem had been allowed to continue unchecked, Séamus said it would have collapsed and that would have caused a two-fold problem for the island: the collapse of the Bull’s Nose would narrow the channel between it and the main ferry pier, making it curtail access for boats.

Furthermore, it would allow the breaking waves to enter the inner harbour, thereby eliminating any protection to the working harbour, including the main ferry terminal and dramatically decrease the times that the island would be accessible by sea during the winter months, or periods of bad weather.

But rather than wait for the inevitable to happen, the pro-active community held an information and consultation meeting at the local community hall. At that meeting, details of a proposed solution – which was devised by John Norris of Malone Regan Design – was put forward.

A redesign

He recommended a redesign of the Bull’s Nose, combined with an extension to Duffy’s Pier, to provide a storm gate with the capacity to create a dry dock in the inner harbour for future development works on a phased basis.

His proposal also involves the dredging of this area to a depth of about two metres with a view to providing a non-tidal safe berth for the ferry at a later stage, as well as the development of the inner harbour to provide fishing and marina facilities.

Now that planning permission has been granted, Séamus said: ‘We hope that the Department of Marine will spare no effort in mobilising the required resources for this most urgent project and we will continue to count on the support of Minister Simon Coveney, who knows the area well, to make the necessary emergency funds available.’