New development strategy targets marine leisure infrastructure nation-wide

‘A development strategy for marine leisure infrastructure’ was launched today by the Marine Institute. The report identifies indicative locations around the coast with potential for the development of boating facilities. It will provide an essential framework for structured development and support investment decisions to ensure that new marine leisure infrastructure developments in Ireland meet the needs of key users.

Ireland’s network of piers, slipways and harbours are an essential part of national infrastructure and serve many sectors of the economy. The number of marine leisure users has increased dramatically in the past few years, competing with the original focus of activity in commercial ports and fishing harbours. Reconstruction, upgrading and additional basic facilities are clearly needed within a national framework.

"This report provides a strategic and focused approach that will help the sector achieve maximum impact from the significant investment available under the National Development Plan, in coming years" said Mr. Fahey T.D., Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources.

There is a growing national and international interest in marine leisure activities in Ireland. A good network of coastal infrastructure needs to be developed to provide safe berthing and launching facilities to meet the needs of this emerging sector. The report identifies areas with potential for development, however all locations identified will require detailed engineering and economic assessments prior to submission for statutory approvals. Sites not highlighted in the strategy are not excluded from funding grants.

"To make the most of investment funding, development will need to be prioritised," said Anne Wilkinson, Manager of Marine Tourism and Leisure at the Marine Institute. "This will be achieved by focusing on a limited number of new facilities in key locations and upgrading a number of existing facilities to maximise the range of marine leisure activities that can take place at each site", she explained.

A supporting document ‘Guidelines for Planning a Marina Development’ was also launched. This illustrates the planning process and highlights the appropriate steps to be taken in preparing an application for planning permission and a foreshore lease for a coastal marina development.

These guidelines highlight that the development of marine leisure infrastructure requires careful planning. Consultation, particularly at an early stage, with the both the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources and relevant Local Authority on key issues such as planning policy, navigation, safety and conservation designations, can greatly enhance the prospect of achieving a successful marina development.

A key consideration will be integrating the requirements of the marine leisure sector with the needs of other marine sectors. "The ultimate goal is to provide a network of high quality marine leisure facilities throughout the whole Irish coastline", said Ms. Wilkinson. "We hope that prospective developers will take full advantage of the information made available in the guideline document", she said.