PLANS to update Cork County Council’s harbour by-laws, including a change in landing charges for fisheries and passenger ferries, were discussed at a recent Western Committee meeting.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said the revised laws would allow the local authority to collect standardised charges across the region and that the money raised could be used to continue to improve its piers and slipways.
Divisional manager Clodagh Henehan informed the councillors that there are 196 piers and slipways under the control of Cork County Council and that the income they generate is around €100,000 per annum.
However, as the projected expenditure involved in operating and maintaining the piers and slipways is in excess of €700,000, she said the situation needed to be addressed.
The piers and slipways are categorised according to their usage and vary from large working harbours with cargo, leisure, fishing and passenger usage to smaller piers with a purely leisure use, and all except fourteen of the piers are located within the western division of Cork County Council.
At present, there are different regimes in place in different locations, with the Port of Cork and the Bantry Bay Port Company Limited being the harbour authority in certain areas. The existing by-laws were adopted in 2009, but Clodagh Henehan said these need to be updated because Cork County Council has, since that time, become the harbour authority for three additional harbours, namely Youghal, Kinsale and Baltimore.
‘The operation of these harbours,’ she added, ‘are regulated through separate legislation governing the locations and should be consolidated under the by-laws.’
She also pointed out that different charges apply in different locations and these ‘need to be standardised across the county.’
The divisional manager said: ‘The income from piers and harbours should align with the associated costs of management and maintenance and the current significant budgetary gap must be reduced through increased fees and improved compliance.’
With more and more piers being used for leisure activities, she said, this aspect also requires regulation based on current best practice. And she said that landing charges for fisheries and passenger ferries ‘should be brought into line with charges in other locations’. The next stage in implementing the by-laws would be to publish them before bringing them back to the Council for consideration.