Stena Line looking to remove berth at pier

by Aisling Kennedy

STENA Line has announced its intention to apply for planning permission to remove its ferry berthing equipment at St Michael’s Pier in Dun Laoghaire harbour over the coming months.
The ferry company took an advertisement out in this newspaper last week stating that it would be submitting a planning application to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council but, as yet, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has not received a planning application for the works.
As part of Stena Line’s planning notice, it has stated that it will remove the east/west walkway, terminal walkways and the supporting steel and concrete structure at St Michael’s Pier.
By removing the berthing equipment at St Michael’s Pier, high speed super (HSS) ferries will no longer be able to berth in the locality, but currently the Stena Line HSS is the only HSS vessel that docks in the berth.
Cllr Patricia Stewart (FG) told The Gazette that while she was sorry to see the HSS gangway go, she did not believe removal of the berthing equipment would affect any other type of ferry wishing to dock in the harbour.
She said: “Stena Line had to apply for planning permission to install the HSS ferry berthing equipment originally, so they now have to apply for permission to remove the berthing equipment.
“In one way, I’m sorry to see the HSS gangway and structures go, but these fuel-guzzling, high-speed super ferries are a thing of the past, and the structures themselves are large and intrusive.
“I wish the Harbour Company the best of luck in attracting other ferries in the future.”
Cllr Ossian Smyth (GP) said that he would love to see Dun Laoghaire regain a regular ferry service, but for that to happen the HSS receiving structure would need to be removed as it was not compatible with a conventional ferry.
He said: “The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company has sought a new ferry company to operate a service from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead, and I understand that there has been interest from several ferry companies.
“The Harbour Company should concentrate on securing a deal with a new ferry operator rather than chasing their pipe dream of a mega-cruise ship pier, which is neither commercially nor environmentally viable.”
Cllr Victor Boyan (Ind) said, however, that he was disappointed to learn that Stena Line would lodge a planning application to the council.
He said: “Despite promises from Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company that an alternative ferry service would replace Stena, no replacement service has materialised.
“I am concerned that the entire focus of the Harbour Company and the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council executive is on seasonal, giant, super-cruise ships, and not on retaining an all-year round ferry service to the UK.”
In response, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company said it was aware of Stena Line’s impending planning permission application and would not be objecting to it.
A spokesperson for the company added: “The Harbour Company continues to explore alternative services, and is expediting the development plan for the harbour which should result in a range of services and activities that will have local economic benefit.”

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