A new lease of life for Wicklow Harbour

Last week, the Wicklow People published an amended article of mine under the editors by-line. Wicklow Harbour has been a thriving port on the east coast of Ireland for well over a hundred years but has lost out in recent decades as the size and types of cargo ships have increased substanially. Our near neighbour, Dublin Port – Ireland’s busiest, is near to full capacity and is looking at possible options to expand it’s dock space.

Looking to the future - could Wicklow see a new Harbour?

 

Wicklow could offer an option to resolve some of it’s problem. If a new breakwater was built just north of the existing harbour, taking advantage of a recently built access road and proximity to the main railway line, substantially larger ships could be facillitated, including container and ro-ro traffic. Assuming the design of the new breakwater offers all weather protection for the old harbour, leisure facilities could be developed therein to make a viable tourism  focussed business model to create a substantial number of jobs for the local economy. The long term benefit of a major infrastructural investment of a new breakwater would reap rewards for generations to come in the form of sustainable employment for Wicklow’s young people.

With the beautiful Wicklow Mountains National Park as a back drop, small/medium sized cruise liners could provide a welcome tourism boost for the area also. This form of travel has never been more popular and Cruise Lines are looking for new options to sell to their customers.

All the old commercial buildings and warehouses on the North Quay could be sold to developers to allow businesses like hotels, bars and restuarants, cinema, shops, car parking etc to make the old harbour attractive as a destination venue – similar to Kinsale on the south coast of Ireland. With our proximity to Dublin, both day trips and overnight stays in Wicklow would be attractive options.

The purpose of this article was to create debate and to try and stimulate the thoughts of our business community to look to their future prosperity. At present, the Port is designated as a commercial entity but it is too small to effectively fulfill that role nowadays. The knock on effect to the local fishing and leisure users by resticting access means that the port is not really working effectively for any of its core users.

A new harbour will generate substantial freight and hopefully cruise passenger traffic, also fishing and work boats would vacate the existing harbour, allowing it to be available for  leisure use.  A marina could possibly be accommodated. Also the world renowned Round Ireland Yacht Race, run biannually by Wicklow Sailing Club, would benefit by a substantial increase in berths for competing boats.

While design and tidal issues are not properly allowed for in this outline plan, a proper study could determine what refinements might be required. One suggestion worth considering – the Breakwater could have a series of tidal turbines built into it, generating electricity for the harbour and also helping to flush the harbour area.

Wicklow Port will die as a commercial entity if nothing is done, depriving the area of a wealth generating facility. Certainly, the capital cost of this project could be huge but in terms of the projected €0.5billion to reclaim Dublin Port, it could prove a more cost effective partial option.

 
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