By Siobhan Cronin
BANTRY harbour is set for a major €8.5m redevelopment which will see a new 20-berth marina, a deeper inner harbour, and a longer and wider pier completed by 2017.
It is hoped the new-look harbour can attract cruise ships which currently anchor off Glengarriff, and water-loving tourists, who will be able to berth leisure craft in the centre of the West Cork town.
The plans were unveiled this week by the Port of Cork, when it announced that the works would be put to tender this July, with hopes of construction being started in the autumn.
Up to 50 jobs could be created by the development, which will take up to two years, according to Denis Healy, deputy chief executive of the Port of Cork authority, which oversees Bantry harbour.
The scheme marks the start of the regeneration of the inner harbour, according to the port authority, and follows on from the planning permission which was initially granted in 2013.
‘The scheme will provide a more sheltered harbour environment and marina with increased water depth and improved pier facilities, which will promote fishing and tourism activities in the Bantry area,’ the Port of Cork said.
It is Phase 1 of a much more optimistic plan for the harbour, but the remaining development would be contingent on funds becoming available, Mr Healy told The Southern Star.
The €8.5m plan will be partially funded by the Department of Transport (€3.5m), with €1.5m coming from the former Bantry Harbour Commissioners’ funds (which was taken over by the Port of Cork last year) and the remaining €3.5m will come by way of borrowings.
‘There should be an opportunity for cruise ships to come as far as Bantry now,’ said Mr Healy, who added that an Environmental Impact Statement on the harbour had already been completed, and that water quality monitoring was ongoing.
‘This is just the first phase of a greater vision,’ said Mr Healy. ‘Time will tell what happens after that.’
If the plan is deemed a success and the people of Bantry are benefitting, then funding may become available for a second phase, he said.
Specific details of the work were unveiled this week, which include: a 20-berth marina on quayside pontoons, dredging to a depth of 4m to allow vessels access to the inner harbour; widening and extension of the town pier; construction of a 60m floating breakwater pontoon, and beach ‘nourishment’ of the cove area, which is close to the Bantry House N71 entrance.
There are also plans for 4,000 sq m of reclaimed land near the ‘railway pier’ end of the harbour, to be made into a landscaped amenity area.
Material sourced from dredging the harbour area will be put to use in the reclamation.
Mr Healy said he did not envisage any major disruption to traffic entering the town on the N71, which runs alongside the harbour, but any works would be undertaken in consultation with Cork County Council.
He also could not comment on whether there would be any change to the location of the town’s halting site opposite the proposed amenity area, but he didn’t expect it would be impacted by the development.
The location of the halting site was a matter for Cork County Council, he said.
Several attempts to contact a spokesperson in Cork County Council to comment on the impact of the development , before going to press, proved unsuccessful.