Wednesday, 2 October 2019
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Harbours and Piers Development
I welcome the Minister of State and thank him for dealing with this matter. Cromane is a wonderful place on the Ring of Kerry, just beyond Killorglin and alongside Dooks, home of the natterjack toad, which is a protected species.
Dooks is also home to a wonderful 18-hole links course. Cromane overlooks Castlemaine Harbour and is a gateway to the Dingle Peninsula. Close by in this wonderful countryside are Rossbeigh, Kells Bay, Mountain Stage, Cahersiveen and Waterville. It is hard to imagine it in this day and age, but specially equipped tractors are having to enter seawater at Cromane to offload fish from seagoing vessels and trawlers. It is a primitive practice for such a valuable fishing industry, which exports mussels and other seafood to Japan and all over the world. There is a lovely beach as one goes past Cromane church, but the road is not fit for the huge number of visitors the village attracts and greatly requires upgrading. A proper harbour is badly needed, in the interests of health and safety and every other type of consideration. I look forward to the Minister of State's response. I am grateful for the Minister of State's presence in the Chamber in place of the Minister, Deputy Creed.
If the Senator were not a Member of this House, he would make a great tour guide. Kerry's beauty almost matches that of Galway.
I thank the Senator for raising this important issue. Under statute, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine owns, operates and maintains six designated State-owned fishery harbour centres, located at Castletownbere, Dingle, Dunmore East, Howth, Killybegs and Rossaveel. In addition, the Department also has responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of North Harbour at Cape Clear, as well as the maintenance of a small number of specific piers, lights and beacons throughout Ireland, in accordance with the Marine Works (Ireland) Act 1902, and piers, lights and beacons constructed under the auspices of the former Congested Districts Board.
The fishery harbour and coastal infrastructure development programme is a capital expenditure programme funded from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine's Vote. The programme is administered an annual basis and any money not spent within the calendar year reverts to the Exchequer. Works funded under the programme include development, construction and maintenance of coastal infrastructure for fish and aquaculture landing sites. The strategic objective of the scheme is to ensure the future viability of the fishing industry, to bring the fishery harbour centres up to best international practice, to reduce congestion at the harbours and to improve safety for the fisheries sector.
Responsibility for the maintenance and development of local authority-owned harbours and piers rests with each individual authority in the first instance and its parent Department, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, thereafter. In the case of Cromane Pier, proposals for a potential future pier development project are a matter for Kerry County Council. While mussel seed fishing in Castlemaine Harbour is regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the legislative remit does not extend to possible future capital infrastructure works at Cromane. However, my Department does operate a scheme under its annual fishery harbour and coastal infrastructure development programme to assist local authorities in carrying out small-scale developments and repairs of piers and slipways under their ownership, subject to available Exchequer funding and overall national priorities.
As part of the 2019 capital programme, €2.2 million was allocated for the local authority harbour development scheme and a marine leisure and tourism scheme. A total of 39 projects have been approved across 12 local authorities. In 2019, Kerry County Council was approved for funding for two projects to a total of €127,500. Those projects are located at Dromatoo Pier and Tarbert Pier. No application for funding was received under this year's programme in respect of Cromane Pier. In the period from 2010 to 2018, more than €1.6 million was provided to Kerry County Council under the local authority element of the fishery harbour and coastal infrastructure development programme. Any application submitted by Kerry County Council under any future programme in respect of Cromane Pier will be considered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in the context of the programme's criteria, available funding and overall priorities.
I thank the Minister of State for his response, which prompts me to revert to Kerry County Council on this matter. I will not say I was misled but it is news to me that there was no application from the council in this regard. I am grateful to the Minister of State for his courtesy.