By BRIAN MOORE
THE long-awaited multi-million euro redevelopment of Bantry Inner Harbour is officially under way.
The Phase 1 contract, worth €8.5m, was signed at a ceremony in Bantry. Following a tendering process which began in September 2015, the construction firm BAM Civil Ltd has secured the contract and it is expected that work will begin early in March.
‘There will be a new breakwater pontoon in place to allow us to move vessels so that we can begin construction work at the Town Pier, then the dredging with begin later in the year,’ John Mullins, chairman of the Bantry Bay Port Company, told The Southern Star. ‘At that stage you will see the car parking area getting underway and finally there will be 20 new berths for vessels available along the new quayside.’
Phase 1 of the construction plan will see the widening and extending of the town pier, the dredging of 4m at the pier and a further 3m to provide for the new 20-berth marina. The construction of a newly reclaimed amenity area located beside the railway pier will provide 4,000 square metres for public recreational use.
‘Bantry Bay Port Company is delighted that this project is now underway,’ added John Mullins. ‘This is a major investment for Bantry and it doesn’t stop with the town pier. We will also be refreshing our planning application for a development at the Abbey slipway to include a foreshore licence and an extension of the sailing club facilities. With the increase in tourism and the Wild Atlantic Way, this will be a very important development, not only for Bantry but the surrounding area as well.’
Welcoming the start of Phase 1 of the Bantry Inner Harbour Development, Labour Deputy Michael McCarthy said the investment shows the potential the area has to offer.
‘Coming at the backend of a recession this €8.5m investment is a lot of money. It is good for tourism, and it’s good for the promotion of Bantry and the surrounding area. I’m delighted that the contract has been signed, it is a very good day for Bantry and indeed for West Cork,’ Deputy McCarthy said.
With construction getting underway within a month and a forecasted completion date of late 2017, the members of the Bantry Business Association, also welcomed the development.
‘This is the best news we’ve had in a long time. It will bring both leisure and commercial opportunities to the town,’ Diarmuid Hurley, chairman of the Bantry Business Association, said. ‘This will have a real effect on the business community. We look forward to the work getting underway.’
With increased commercial activity, both with local fishermen and with the Whiddy Island Oil terminal, the Bantry Bay Port Company plans to reinvest this increase in revenue back into the redevelopment and addition of new facilities along the waterfront.
‘There is Government investment, as well as Port Of Cork investment, and I am delighted to see the commencement of Phase 1,’ Deputy Noel Harrington TD (FG) said. ‘The reinvestment by the Bantry Bay Port Company is crucial to this and I am delighted with the increased commercial activity. On top of this increase in commercial activity we will see both Tourism and Leisure potential increase as well. So, I feel this is great news all round for Bantry and for the town’s further development.’
However, while welcoming the investment, Cllr Michael Collins (Ind) said he hoped that everybody would fully support the planned development of Bantry’s piers and amenity areas.
‘I have been pushing for more consultation since this project was announced and I feel that Phase 1 of this development with not only be good for those who make a living from the Bay, but for the town and people of this area as well. The investment is very welcome and I would like to see everybody get on board and look forward to the completion and the undoubted boost this will bring to Bantry,’ Cllr Collins concluded.