Ardglass investment critical for harbour

Ardglass investment critical for harbour

29 July 2020

A MAJOR report due to be published within days is expected to provide a timetable for planned improvement work at Ardglass harbour.

Stormont fisheries minister, Edwin Poots, will shortly unveil details of the Fishing and Seafood Development programme which will also outline timescales for work at Kilkeel and Portavogie harbours.

The eagerly-awaited report could be published before the end of this week or in early August with local councillor, Dermot Curran, keen to examine its detail.

He said economic activity in Ardglass is underpinned by the fishing industry, highlighting the need for significant improvements at the harbour, including making it deeper to accommodate larger vehicles.

Earlier this year, Cllr Curran and South Down MLA Colin McGrath met with Mr Poots to discuss the needs of the Co Down fishing ports.

Both men highlighted the importance of the Ardglass fishing industry to the district and wider South Down economy and outlined planned improvement work at the harbour, including its proposed deepening to accommodate larger herring and mackerel vessels in particular.

The politicians also emphasised the need for additional investment in the harbour and its infrastructure, insisting that the port receives its fair share of funding to help enhance the existing fleet.

They said the harbour was “strategically important” for the Co Down fleet, highlighting its crucial role in driving the South Down economy and its location as a hub for processing fish.

The politicians said additional investment was critical to allow Ardglass harbour to expand with appropriate slipways provided to allow larger vessels to dock safely.

Several weeks after the meeting with Mr Poots it was revealed that ambitious plans to redevelop the village harbour could cost in the region of £45m. The figure was outlined in a detailed consultants report commissioned to undertake an in-depth feasibility study to look at potential developments for the local harbour.

While the key issue the consultants focused on was deepening the harbour to facilitate larger vessels, they also examined improving harbour conditions, berthing pontoons for smaller vessels and increased berthing facilities.

The consultants also undertook a comprehensive review of possible harbour layouts, historic document research, topographic and bathymetric harbour surveys, quay wall inspection above and below the waterline and computer modelling.

Ardglass has the only all-weather harbour between Howth and Bangor and has three primary areas, including the fish dock within the south 

pier. In August last year, various concept layouts produced by consultants were reviewed by members of the Ardglass Harbour Developments group set up to oversee the regeneration of the port. 

Cllr Curran says there are plans to deepen the outer harbour by nine metres and the area adjacent to Cochrane’s building at the inner harbour by two metres to facilitate crab vessels.

He said consideration is also being given to creating a pontoon with finger berths adjacent to the quay wall and gangway access for crab vessels. No leisure craft would be permitted at this part of the harbour.

“New investment in Ardglass harbour can help sustain existing jobs and create new employment opportunities,” said Cllr Curran. “The port plays a key part in the local economy and is at the heart of village life.”