*Photograph: Chris McKiernan

There is confidence that opportunities for job creation in maritime industry will arise following the zoning of tracts of land along the Shannon Estuary.

A maritime spatial planning directive was included in the draft regional spatial and economic strategy (RSES). It stated, “Significant tracts of land have been zoned for a Marine Related Industry in Counties Clare, Limerick and Kerry as a result of the preparation of the SIFP and these sites present prime opportunities for employment-generating development in the region. Clare County Council in 2017 commissioned a feasibility study of the Cahercon Marine Related Industry site through the provision of Enterprise Ireland funding.

“Projects such as tidal energy, offshore wind or off shore wave energy all have potential for utilising such a site in terms of research and development, services and/or monitoring. The zoned lands at Tarbert/Ballylongford in North Kerry with extant planning for strategic energy and marine related industry including the Shannon Gas LNG project are a further example of the regional and national potential of the location. The SIFP requires marketing and promotion support both from a financial and expertise perspective”. Opposition has been expressed to the Shannon Gas LNG project by Futureproof Clare.

Kilrush, Moneypoint and Cahercon are listed as Clare’s central port and harbour assets. “Cahercon in County Clare is strategically located to provide a maritime centre of excellence with accommodation for maritime research which could work to create synergies with the considerable hinterland available, existing infrastructure and direct access to deep water,” the document notes.

Regarding a low carbon economy and renewable energy, the RSES highlighted, “Moneypoint electricity generating station produces 25% of national energy. The Limerick and Clare Energy Agency and Tipperary Energy Agency are established agencies in the research of renewable energy. Mount Callan in Co. Clare has been identified for a Pumped Hydro Electricity Scheme complementing the existing regional scaled Wind Energy Development”.

Published in November 2013, the Strategic Integrated Framework Plan (SIFP) for the Shannon Estuary viewed Cahercon as “an opportunity to redevelop and re-use existing marine infrastructure at the existing pier”. In December, €1,759,226 in funding was set aside for the development of maritime and cruise liner-related training facilities at the disused school and convent in Cahercon.

280 hectares of zoned land are available for development in Moneypoint, the SIFP highlighted. At full output, the station consumes approximately 7,000 tonnes of coal per day around two million tonnes a year with all imports through the commercial jetty. “Significant development opportunities can be delivered without a need for major capital dredging activity. There are potential synergies for the development of marine related industry and renewable energy. The SDL is close to the mouth of the Estuary with excellent transport linkages including direct access to sea traffic. The lands are well connected by the existing road network”.

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