THE Port of Cork says it will resist any attempt to compulsory purchase its land in the city for the €1 billion Docklands redevelopment until it has found itself a new home.
A rift between port and council officials became apparent yesterday at a Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the development.
David Holland, SC, representing the port, told the hearing that while port management generally supported the redevelopment of the quays, they couldn’t allow the building of two bridges before they vacate the area, as it would threaten the company’s viability.
About 40% of all the Port of Cork’s profits are made on the city quays.
To facilitate the redevelopment of the docklands, the city council wants to provide access to and from the Lower Glanmire Road by building bridges across the River Lee at Tivoli and Water Street.
Port officials say it wouldn’t be practical to build these until they had relocated, even though river traffic would have priority.
As most ships berth and leave in the mornings and evenings, the bridges would be closed to rush-hour road traffic for anything up to 55 minutes at a time.
“The port, with great regret, has been forced, much against its will, to oppose the present (planning) application as (it) is highly damaging to port viability,” said Mr Holland.
He said the Port of Cork was being asked to move not for its own purposes, but for the benefit of the city.
“The city (council) seems to assume that if they wait long enough the city quays will fall cheaply into their lap, that the port will simply go away. It will not, because it cannot,” the senior counsel said.
Port of Cork officials argue that the land they own on the quays is worth €58.27 million, but neither the city council or developers have discussed a compensation package with them.
Last Tuesday the port chairman, Dermot O’Mahoney, said compensation should be paid by developers moving onto the site and due to the recession he would accept stage payments.
But speaking at the oral hearing in Rochestown Park Hotel, Mr Holland said: “At present there is no prospect of funding the relocation costs. For as long as that is so, for the foreseeable future, the port must remain at the city quays. Any plans ignoring that fact are built on sand.”
“Until proper funding is in place for the relocation of the port it will stay in the city quays and reserves the right to resist any attempt to move it,” he said.