Dublin port

Dublin Port noise complaints

Posted May 9th, 2011

Motion on the Adjournment of the Dail, 6 April 2011, re Dublin Port noise complaints

I wish to raise on the adjournment of the House an issue that, while specific to my own constituency of Dublin South East in terms of the detail of the matter, is one that bears relevance to all constituencies represented in this House. As it pertains to the poor conduct of a semi-state company, Dublin Port Company.

Dublin Port is an incredibly important asset to this country and it is key to our economic recovery. If we as a nation are to do well, then it must do well. It also plays a generous role in supporting local communities in the area, financially and through other means. I have visited the company and I was impressed with the extent of the operation I saw there: 4000 employees; 42% of our GDP goes through the port; 5 ferry companies operating up to 15 sailings with UK every day. It is a vital strategic asset to this State.

And yet for nearly a decade it has ignored its obligations under the Planning Laws, and it has acted with something close to contempt in its dealings with local residents.

I would like to very briefly outline the facts of the matter as I understand them:

  • In 2002, three 30 meter high gantry cranes were erected in Dublin Port, on the south quay of the Liffey, where Marine Terminal Ltd. operates.
  • No planning permission was sought at the time for these cranes.
  • The cranes are located within close distance to a number of homes on Pigeon House Road.
  • The cranes produce considerable noise pollution, often through the night given the irregular operation of the Port due to tidal considerations.
  • The level of noise pollution has been shown to be in excess of both the World Health Organisation and Dublin City Council’s noise pollution limits.
  • It has quite an impact on residents’ lives.
  • Both Dublin Port Co and Dublin City Council have been made aware of this serious disruption on a number of occasions, beginning in 2004.
  • More recent protests have come to nothing.
  • Dublin Port Co. have so far failed to engage appropriately with residents, taking the position that the cranes do not require planning permission, and offering minimal gestures regarding mitigating the noise caused by the operation of the cranes.
  • In 2011 residents gained confirmation through the Section 5 planning process that the cranes are not exempt from planning permission.
  • This now raises issues in relation to insurance of the cranes.
  • Still nothing has been done and they continue, through the night, every day.
  • Given the continued operation of the cranes residents now feel compelled to take this matter to the courts.

This isn’t a question of people moving in beside a busy industrial site and then complaining about the work going on at that site.

This is about the expansion of a business – a semi-state company – without proper observance of the laws of the land, and in a manner that has shown wilful disrespect for their neighbours.

It’s not right that people can be treated this way by any company, let alone a semi-state one.

It’s not right that the residents of CoastGuard Cottages now feel their only form of redress is through the courts – a lengthy and expensive process, which they probably lack the finances (and at this late stage, the will) to take on.

Dublin Port and its tenants have to do business, and they have to do it as best they can if we are to prosper as a nation. But they cannot do it by their own rules and oblivious to the lives of others. It is just that kind of attitude at the national level and on the part of the previous government that has brought us to the precarious financial position that we now occupy.

Surely we can do better. We must, if we are to honour the pledges that we made during the campaign and that are contained in the Programme for Government. We must, if we are to meet people’s expectations of what politics is meant to be about. Expectations of what public representation is all about.

I would urge the Minister to investigate this matter immediately, as a priority, and to use his good offices to help find a resolution for all involved:

to address the legitimate problems that residents are facing on a daily basis; and, to put Dublin Port Co. back in good standing both in relation to the law and in its dealings with local residents.

This is a semi-state company. This is our responsibility.