Plan greater access to Cork Harbour for all
Cork Harbour is one of our greatest national assets. It is the second largest natural harbour in the world, second only to Sydney Harbour. It is Ireland’s second largest port. Its size and huge diversity of activities mean that the pressures on Cork Harbour are in a continual process of change and growth. Locals and authorities alike are becoming increasingly aware of the unique asset it offers to so many interest groups.
There is much that is good happening in Cork Harbour at present. Cork County Council has played a particular role in the opening of Spike Island to the public. It also undertook an in-house comprehensive “Cork Harbour Study” in 2011. The aim of this Study was to stimulate discussion about sustainable compromises in use of the finite land resources around the shores of the Harbour.
Unfortunately the impetus appears to have gone out of the drive towards collaborative management of the Harbour. The Cork Harbour Study has remained at draft stage. The European-funded Cork Harbour Forum first met in 2006 to feed into the stakeholder-led Cork Harbour Integrated Management Strategy. From the Forum, the Harbour Management Focus Group was set up. Although this group continues to meet, it comprises representatives of statutory bodies and is quite disconnected from the stakeholders who originally took part in the Forum.
A model for Cork to work towards would be that of the Sharing Sydney Harbour Access Plan produced by the New South Wales government. This is an access plan for both land and water, backed by a 5-year capital works programme. It would make huge strides towards access to Cork Harbour if the draft Cork Harbour Study could be used as the basis for a similar plan, working towards a network of access points to the Harbour.