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Issue 2 2019 - FBJ

tonnes says Ronan. There is also

a brisk business in windmills. “We were very active in onshore wind in 2017 and we hope to see offshore activity grow in future years,” Ronan explains. There are plans to build offshore wind farms all the way down the Celtic Sea. There is even more potential

for containers, he continues. “We have a small operation, currently handling two visits by 800teu ships on the joint Samskip- DFDS service from Rotterdam every week. It handles around

40,000teu a year, which is a fraction of its capacity – it could quadruple, with the current terminal.” Indeed, there may well be

potential for container traffic to grow further,

especially if

Brexit makes it less attractive to landbridge road traffic via the UK. “We do see a lot of scope for new container services,” says Ronan. “The driver shortage, carbon emissions – they’re all issues for road transport operators today.” Waterford used to be the main

base for the Bell Lines operation in Ireland – the multimodal operator

served the whole of the island from the port with its own dedicated hub-and-spoke rail network – and while that disappeared in 1997, the port was fortunate in being able to retain its expertise in handling containers, Ronan explains. “We can clean and repair boxes, we have 200 reefer points and reefer technicians here. Bell Lines was the genesis of this port and the skills are still here.” The port itself is also relatively

new. The present operation dates from around 1993, replacing an older city centre location which has been turned over to waterfront

and marina-type development. The result is a clean, modern port that is ideal for handling a whole range of food, agri and bulk goods as well as containers. While Waterford is well on top

of its current workload, there are plans for future growth. ABP’s consulting arm has worked on plans to how the channel could be deepened and better managed to enable larger ships to be handled at some point in the future. Ronan explains the rationale

behind Waterford’s thinking: “During the financial crisis there was a huge refocus on the port of

Just under a year into his job as the port of Cork’s chief commercial officer, Conor Mowlds couldn’t have asked for a better start. “I’m delighted at the way things are going – and this is a very exciting time for us,” he told FBJ. Cork is in the process of doing

something that few other ports have contemplated – moving a major container handling operation lock stock and barrel to a new location. The new terminal at Ringaskiddy is currently under construction and is on target to open in about a year’s time, in the first quarter of 2020. It will replace the existing Tivoli terminal,

which will relinquish its role as Cork’s box terminal and, in time, probably all commercial cargo activity. Along with the box traffic,


the other remaining commercial freight activity will move out of Cork city centre upriver; Cork is one of the last major European ports with active freight activity in the inner areas. The City Quays will be closed and sold to the city council for commercial waterfront development. Cork will, therefore, cease to

be one of the last truly urban ports in Europe, but Mowlds is determined “to leave a maritime legacy behind us”. There are a number of

reasons behind the decision to move commercial port activity upriver. Keeping the river navigable to commercial traffic through dredging has become a greater and greater challenge, especially with the increases in ship size. Moreover, the city of Cork has grown and there is

ever-increasing pressure

on land for housing and other activity. Land in general is an issue in

the Cork region, adds Mowlds. “We are quite constrained here, and we are continually looking to find space in and around the port and talking to government development agencies.” The port has a good relationship

probably be turned over to non-freight activity by 2025. Negotiations underway which

are with include container operators,

currently tenants, hauliers, bulk

liquid storage operators and

to develop the Oyster Bank area but this was refused so only a certain amount of land is available to the port for development. Meanwhile, Cork will gain

a container terminal that will be significantly bigger than the existing one, more than capable of handling the 3,800teu Hamburg Sud ships expected next year and which will be the biggest vessels handled on the current terminal. In fact, Ringskiddy will be easily capable of handling the largest container ships to call in Ireland. Ro ro is the other major thrust

of the port’s development. Cork has had a long and productive relationship with Brittany Ferries which has run a seasonal service to Roscoff from the port but, since last year, there has been a year-round route to Santander in northern Spain. There is also scope for Brittany Ferries to introduce a larger vessel on the Santander route, should traffic develop as hoped – especially if Brexit gives a further fillip to business to the direct route between Ireland and Continental Europe. There is also enough capacity

on the ro ro berths to handle another regular operator,

with the Irish Development Agency (IDA) but even so, it can be a battle to find space in the face of demands from other users such as the pharma and biotech industries. The Tivoli

terminal too will


Dublin and while Dublin has done a fantastic job, it is filling up rapidly again.” Waterford could be a very

effective alternative gateway. It is close to the Irish capital and it has capacity ready and waiting. It has a rail link, last used for a regular container flow to Ballina in the west and which could be reactivated immediately. In addition, its hinterland also

generates a large amount of traffic. The local farming industry

sucks in copious tonnages of inputs such as animal feed and fertilizer, Target and Grassland

freight forwarders, to find them alternative locations. Mowlds admits that this is an issue. “We haven’t got as much land at Ringaskiddy as we would like, so it is a challenge.” Originally, the port wanted

being the two major importers. Other import traffics include steel and cement. There is currently comparatively little export bulk traffic apart from a certain amount of timber and RDF business. Unlike some

Irish ports,

Waterford also has a reasonable land-bank ready to be developed. “We do in fact see ourselves as a development agency – we have a good piece of land available for port-related and industrial use,” says Ronan. Other firms, including Irish food giant Glanbia, also has a big presence in and around the port.

should one present itself, adds Mowlds. Grimaldi, with its regular

trade car carrying services from the Continent is another major user of the port’s ro ro berths. Its largest vessel, the Grande New York has already called twice in Cork. As well as imported trade cars, the Grimaldi vessels take second-hand trucks and farm machinery out of Ireland on the first leg of their voyage to West Africa. VW also regularly puts its car carrying ships into Cork. Bulk traffic has meanwhile

had a good year, helped by the weather which necessitated increased imports of animal feed from further afield including some non-traditional sources of supply including east Europe and Ukraine. Cork could increasingly play

a role in keeping Ireland moving as Dublin becomes increasingly busy and Brexit makes the UK landbridge less attractive. It is a good place from which to serve the rest of Ireland, including the capital. Road improvements mean that Dublin is only 2 hours 20 minutes away, as opposed to four hour not so long ago. The one fly in the ointment

is the immediate access to the port. A judicial review has just found against a planned M28 access motorway, although Mowlds is optimistic that, in the long term, Cork will get the road links that it needs. Otherwise, Cork already enjoys motorway standard road links to


whole of the rest of the island of Ireland. Rail access is also available

from the Merino Point area though in such a small country, demand is limited. A recent study of Cork’s container traffic suggested that 94% of customers are in Munster and the immediate area – hardly an environment in which rail can be expected to shine.

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