Dublin Port overhaul to prepare for Brexit
Dublin Port has launched a new project to accommodate changing trade patterns that have already seen the volume of goods ferried between Ireland and the UK decline as a result of looming Brexit.
The port has lodged a planning application with the Republic's planning authority, An Bord Pleanala.
The project, named MP2, aims to provide significant additional capacity at the facility to cope with increases in trade up to 2040.
The scheme will see a new roll-on/roll-off jetty built to handle ferries of up to 240 metres in length, as well as the redevelopment of an oil berth as a future deep-water container berth.
Earlier this year, the port said it would cut down on the number of cruise ships docking while it carries out works to increase capacity in response to Brexit.
But that has sparked concern about the impact of any future restrictions on the cruise industry in Northern Ireland and the Republic.
The Dublin Port Company, a semi-state body, is currently spending about €277m (£249m) on its so-called Alexander Basin Redevelopment (ABR).
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Due to be completed by 2021, it will improve the port's capacity for large ships by deepening and lengthening three kilometres of the port's seven kilometres of berths.
The ABR is part of a €1bn (£0.9bn) capital programme up to 2028 that will also include initial works on the MP2 Project, as well as the continuing development of an inland port close to Dublin Airport.
"We are seeing clear evidence of the effects of Brexit in our trade figures," said Dublin Port Company chief executive Eamonn O'Reilly.
He said that unitised trade with British ports rose 9.7% in the first quarter of the year, but volumes declined 1.8% in the second quarter.
"For unitised trade with continental Europe and beyond, on the other hand, first-quarter growth of 8.3% was followed by even stronger growth of 10% in quarter two," the chief executive added.
"The MP2 Project is designed to facilitate growth in volumes to continental Europe as Brexit changes trade patterns in the coming years."
The Dublin Port Company said that if it secured planning permission for the MP2 Project, it would provide a €1m (£0.9m) fund to establish a city farm near the port, as well as a €1m trust fund for a local primary school that will be most impacted by the works.