Feature, Freight News, Sea

Last throw of the dice for Dublin Port

[ November 18, 2021   //   ]

Dublin Port Company (DPC) has launched its 3FM Project, the third and final phase of its master plan to bring the main Irish gateway to its final capacity by 2040 and including plans for major new containers and ro ro terminals. As one of Europe’s last major city ports, Dublin is sandwiched between the sea and the urban area and land available for future development is limited.

The area earmarked for development is on the Poolbeg Peninsula and will deliver 20% of the capacity required by 2040 on one-fifth of Dublin Port’s lands, at an estimated cost of €400m.  

Construction of 3FM will start in 2026 and is scheduled to be completed between 2030 and 2035.

The project is now at the pre-planning stage and DPC will lodge a planning application with An Bord Pleanála in early 2023. It is currently preparing the detailed project design and environmental impact reports required for large infrastructure projects and the launch marks the start of “a detailed conversation” with stakeholders before work begins.

It includes construction of Ireland’s largest container terminal adjacent to the Poolbeg Power Station with an annual capacity of 360,000 containers (612,000teu). The existing container terminal will be redeveloped as a new ro ro freight facility with an annual capacity of 288,000 freight trailers.

There will be a new private Southern Port Access Route (SPAR) to link the north and south port areas, which DPC says will take trucks off the public road via a new bridge across the River Liffey.  

The scheme also includes a buffer area and development of public parks and leisure facilities along with a  site to accommodate the City’s waste-powered district heating system.

DPC says the 3FM Project is being launched now to ensure that essential port capacity is available on time. Capacity pinch points are already evident in the north port area following Brexit and pending completion of consented Masterplan projects there. The area has been the focus of the port’s development since 2010, with €500 million invested to cater for 44% growth in overall port volumes.

Lo-Lo traffic, which had already grown by 37% between 2010 and 2020 has accelerated since Brexit, says DPC and volumes in 2021 are 14% higher than last year, hence the plan for the new container terminal whose capacity will be more than twice the number of containers handled in all other Irish ports last year.

DPC chief executive, Eamonn O’Reilly (pictured), said: “There is very little spare capacity for future growth of unitised trade in Dublin Port or in any other port in the country. Planning for long-term needs as far out as 2040 is very difficult and it is important for us in Dublin Port to plan early to ensure that we are ready to construct nationally essential port capacity in advance of demand.”

By the end of 2021, the port will have invested €500m in the 11 years since 2010 and, over the next five years, a further €450m. “Masterplan 2040 projects that Dublin Port will need capacity for an annual throughput of 3.1 million trailers and containers by 2040.  The 3FM Project will deliver one-fifth of this capacity by way of a new lo lo terminal – 360,000 containers per annum – and a new ro ro freight terminal – 288,000 freight trailers per annum.”

Masterplan 2040 and 3FM Project throughputs and capacities

  Masterplan 2040 3FM Project
  2010 throughput2040 planned capacity Planned capacity% of 2040 planned capacity
Ro-Ro units 701,0002,249,000 288,00013%
Lo-Lo units 377,000926,000 360,00039%
Total 1,078,0003,174,000 648,00020%
Lo-Lo TEU 641,0001,574,000 612,00039%

Dublin Port unitised volumes, 2019 and 2020

Ro-Ro units 1,060,9791,059,103
Lo-Lo units 423,715432,604
Total 1,484,6941,491,707
Lo-Lo TEU 758,013774,197

Unitised trade by port, 2020

Units Ro-RoLo-LoTotals%
Dublin  1,060,979  423,715  1,484,694 84.0%
Cork  1,527  138,935  140,462 7.9%
Rosslare  118,306  –    118,306 6.7%
Waterford  –    24,996  24,996 1.4%
Totals  1,180,812  587,646  1,768,458 100.0%