Jan O’ Sullivan, TD, Minister for Planning, will this week launch a major strategic plan for the future development and management of marine-related industry and tourism along Ireland’s largest estuary, the Shannon Estuary.
The launch of the Strategic Integrated Framework Plan (SIFP) for the Shannon Estuary at The Inn at Dromoland, Co. Clare will be attended by 19 stakeholders engaged in the development and management of the Estuary.
The land and marine-based plan, the first of its type to be developed in the country, has been commissioned by a multi-agency steering group comprising Kerry County Council, Clare County Council as lead authority, Limerick City and County Councils, and Shannon Foynes Port Company.
Over the coming months the SIFP will be incorporated into the relevant County and City Development Plans in counties Clare, Limerick and Kerry.
The Shannon Estuary features 500km2 of navigable water running from Loop Head and Kerry Head as far as Limerick City, a distance of 100km. The Estuary is Ireland’s premier deepwater port, routinely catering for ships up to 200,000 deadweight tonnage, with key ports at Limerick and Foynes. It is home to a number of large industries and employers, including ESB Moneypoint, Aughinish Alumina, Tarbert Power Station, Shannon Airport and NORA Fuel Reserve. Meanwhile, the Estuary supports a variety of economic uses but is also rich in natural resources, wildlife and ecosystems.
The newly launched SIFP identifies 9 ‘Strategic Sites’ on the Estuary, namely Tarbert Power Station and Ballylongford Landbank (Kerry), Moneypoint, Innismurry/Cahercon (Clare), and Limerick Docks, Foynes Island, Foynes Port and adjoining lands, Askeaton Industrial Estate, Aughinish Island (Limerick). For the most part, these sites are zoned for ‘Marine-Related Industry’ with Askeaton zoned for ‘Industry’ and Limerick Docks zoned for ‘Mixed Use’. In some cases, the zonings confirm existing large scale developments but additional lands for expansion and some new sites are also identified.
The SIFP identifies Moneypoint and Tarbert Power Stations as ‘Key Energy Sites’ in addition to Ballylongford Landbank, the site of the permitted liquefied natural gas (LNG) Project. The Plan names Kilconly point, Carrig Island, Tarbert Bay (Kerry) and Moneypoint (Clare) as opportunity sites for renewable energy, with opportunities for servicing offshore renewable energy developments also identified.
There is a similar approach to fishing and aquaculture with 8 separate opportunity sites identified on the Estuary, including designated Shell Fish Waters at Poulnasherry Bay and Carrigaholt Bay in County Clare. Other areas of opportunity include Rinevella Bay, Killimer and Clonderlaw Bay in Clare, Carrig Island in Kerry, and Greenish Island and Long Rock in Limerick.
The Plan recognises the tourism potential of the Estuary and includes objectives to further develop the Cruise Ship industry, while it highlights the potential of the Islands on the Fergus Estuary. Meanwhile, the strategy features objectives relating to aviation and supports the future development of Shannon Airport, including acknowledging the importance of the 2000-acre land bank zoned for aviation uses in the Shannon Town & Environs Local Area Plan 2012-2018.
Other organisations represented on the SIFP steering group include the Mid West Regional Authority, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Shannon Airport Authority, Limerick Clare Energy Agency, OPW, National Parks & Wildlife Service, National Monuments Service, Shannon River Basin District Project, Marine Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
For more on the Strategic Integrated Framework Plan (SIFP) visit www.shannonestuarysifp.ie.