Please see below a responce from GARG Chairperson Diarmuid Cahill in relation to media reports which appeared in Newspapers on Thursday 26th December 2012 on the potential ferry development between Greencastle Co Down and Greenore Co Louth by Carlingford Ferries
The residents group on the Greencastle side has very series concerns about this proposed development. We have read in various media outlets that this project has been in planning for over six years but there has been a lack of consultation with residents. We were first informed about this proposal in late Sept 2011, and there was very little information provided at that public meeting. Since that meeting the residents group have tried to engage with the developers with little success, and it was only in November 2012 that a follow up meeting was held. At that meeting we requested a public meeting to be held so that all residents in the area can be provided with as much information on this proposed development.
The Infrastructure for such a development does not exist within the Greencastle Area. The road infrastructure is unable to sustain any increase in traffic. The proposed developed could see a potential 950 to 1400 cars per day during peak summer periods, that is a potential 40,000 vehicles in one month. There is also the possibility that commercial and Lorries make use of the ferry adding more pressure to the road network.
When the developers were questioned about any possible road improvements they stated that this would be nothing to do with them and are DRD’s problem. The Greencastle Pier Road needs major improvements, which should not be dependent on this ferry project.
The proposed landing site for the development on the Greencastle side is in front of a medieval church and a 1230’s Anglo-Norman Castle which was built by Hugh de Lacy. This development has the potential to ruin the rich and unique natural heritage that exists in the Greencastle Area. Because of the location of the proposed site the Pier has to be approximately 154 meters in length, which is twice the length of the existing old wooden pier which was built in 1880. In the past any impact study for a proposed ferry between Greencastle and Greenore always suggested that the only workable site was beyond the hamlet at Greencastle Point which would result in a smaller infrastructure and also a shorter and safer crossing time.
The sustainability of project is also questionable when you consider similar facilities have closed over the last number of years or are heavily subsided. Lough Foyle Ferry was carrying on average 250,000 passengers per year and could not make a profit. The Strangford and Portaferry service which has a population living on both sides of the lough which need to use the service daily, as well as a vibrant tourist market has lost over £4 million over three years’.
Greencastle nestles at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in a corner of County Down. It is a place of rare beauty and charm, it lays claim to a rich and unique natural heritage as well as a vibrant history whose legacy can be witnessed in the ruins of its medieval fortifications, listed buildings and historical structures these are the resources which need to be developed. The area at present is entirely residential apart from the Carlingford Lough Commissioners and a number Farms. We are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and an Area of Special Scientific Interest.
Sustainable tourism is required for the area. Scenery, peace, tranquility, clean air, safe beaches, places to rest, picnic areas, walking, bird watching, wildlife, built heritage, sailing, culture, etc – Greencastle has it all. A ferry could threaten all that Greencastle has to offer.