Proposals for a £6.45m ferry linking Greencastle in south Down and Greenore in north Louth may well be progressing but a local resident’s group remains unconvinced in relation to the project’s merits. Last week the Reporter outlined the latest developments in Carlingford Ferries plan to establish the service – with planning applications set to be lodged on both sides of the border in the coming weeks. This news drew a rapid response from the Greencastle Area Residents Group, with the group’s chairperson Diarmuid Cahill stating that local residents had serious concerns about the proposed development. “We were first informed about this proposal in late September 2011 and there was very little information provided at that public meeting,” he said. “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 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 development could see a potential 950 to 1,400 cars per day during peak summer periods that is a potential 40,000 vehicles in one month. There is also the possibility that commercial vehicles and lorries make use of the ferry adding more pressure to the road network. 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 metres 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 safer and shorter crossing time. The sustainability of this project is also questionable when you consider that similar facilities have closed over the last number of years or are heavily subsidised. Lough Foyle Ferry was carrying on average 250,000 passengers per year and could not make a profit. The Strangford and Portaferry service which had 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 £4m over 3 years,” Mr Cahill added.
9th January 2013