From Frank McDonald - Irish Times Wednesday 2nd September 2009

AN TAISCE has warned that the proposed deepwater port at Bremore, north Co Dublin, could threaten an archaeological complex of passage tombs even older than Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth in the Boyne Valley. The environmental trust was commenting yesterday on plans by Drogheda Port to extend its boundary southwards so as to incorporate Bremore for development of the deepwater port in partnership with Treasury Holdings.

An Taisce said it had ascertained that the proposed alteration of the Drogheda Port Company’s area of control is to facilitate the construction of a new deepwater port at Bremore to cater for vessels up to 250 metres.

Saying it was opposed to this development, the trust complained no environmental assessment of its effects has been made available, and thus there could be no proper public consultation, as required under EU law. It pointed out that the river Nanny estuary is an EU-designated nature conservation site – a special protected area under the birds directive and a candidate for special area of conservation under the habitats directive. The foreshore and associated sand dunes is home to many species of concern. According to a Foras Forbartha report (1972), the Helix Pisana is a “species that is only found on the Irish coast between south Co Louth and north Co Dublin”.

An Taisce said the archaeological profile of the Bremore area was particularly significant, as it included the legally-protected Bremore Passage Tomb Cemetery as well as elements of the Gormanston Passage Tomb Cemetery.

Archaeologist Dr Mark Clinton, chairman of An Taisce’s national monuments and antiquities committee, said one mound had an entrance orientation indicating the possibility that it was aligned with the summer solstice. “In this regard, and given their morphology and geographical location, there’s every possibility the builders were the near ancestors of those that built the nearby world-acclaimed tombs of Brú na Bóinne [the Boyne Valley tombs].” Dr Clinton said the two cemetery complexes proposed to be incorporated by Drogheda Port under the 2009 Harbours Act “must be considered within the greater context of other passage tombs nearby at Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange”.

“Hence we believe it is far more appropriate that the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne would be extended to include the Bremore-Gormanston complexes rather than their obliteration as a result of an ‘extension’ for ‘development’ of Drogheda Port.”

An Taisce highlighted a potential loss of public amenities, noting that Gormanston lies at the southern end of a “renowned stretch of sandy beaches.

Notice of the Bremore extension plan is available for public inspection only in the Superintendent’s office at Drogheda Garda Station. The deadline for submissions and objections is September 8th. All submissions should be sent to Garret Doocey, Maritime Transport Division, Department of Transport, Dublin 2; email [email protected].