Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Harbours and Piers
291. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if an improved and safer landing facility will be provided on An Blascaod Mór; if the preferred solution has been costed; if there is an indicative timeframe in relation to the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62905/21]
The provision of improved landing facilities at An Blascaod Mór has been an objective of the Office of Public Works for many years. This matter was the subject of PQ 45698/21 and PQ 40407/21, the responses to which the Deputy may find of assistance.
Planning permission was granted to Kerry County Council in 2003 for a pier at An Blascaod Mór but this project did not proceed at the time. The OPW has been advised by Kerry County Council that a fresh process of securing planning for a pier would now be required given changed circumstances concerning environmental protection in the interim.
The OPW has engaged with key stakeholders including Failte Ireland, Kerry County Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in recent years to agree a way to progress the planning of a revised project for An Blascaod Mór. The OPW also made a funding application to the Rural Regeneration Development Fund in 2019 to secure funds to bring to planning a suitable proposal for a new pier at An Blascaod More but this application was not successful. The OPW has also sought to reconvene a steering group established several years ago, comprising representatives from Kerry County Council, the OPW, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Failte Ireland. It is intended that this group will meet early in 2022.
The Great Blasket Island is located in the Blasket Islands Special Area of Conservation, with the highest level of environmental protection. Identifying and costing a preferred solution in order to proceed to planning will require specialist input from professionals in the field of maritime conservation, for which the OPW intends to invite tenders in 2022.
I assure the Deputy that this project continues to be one of great importance to the OPW in order to secure safe access for visitors and to protect the unique landscape of the Island into the future.