Ireland’s largest bulk port company, Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC), has unveiled plans to double its trade in the next three decades with the publication of an ambitious masterplan, Vision 2041.

The plan was launched by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar, TD, and is the first of its kind by the company, which has statutory jurisdiction over all commercial maritime activities on the Shannon Estuary, stretching from Kerry Head/Loop Head to Limerick city consisting of an area of 500km2. 

SFPC currently helps to facilitate international trade valued at over €6bn per annum through the six port facilities on the Shannon Estuary. In 2012 SFPC handled over 10 million tonnes of cargo, an increase of 10% on 2010.

Vision 2041 will assist in targeting international investors by promoting the company’s position as the only Irish port authority with sufficient natural water depths to accommodate the emerging trend for larger vessels up to 80,000 tonnes after the enlargement of the Panama Canal, the world’s most important shipping route, which influences vessel size globally.  

To facilitate the doubling of trade, the masterplan is targeting the upgrading of the N69 Foynes to Limerick road to cater for increased heavy goods traffic of up to 353% over the period of the masterplan. The company welcomes the fact that upgrade works on the N69 were completed in 2012 but calls on the authorities to prioritise at a national level the N69 upgrades in the short term in order to facilitate the traffic growth projected in Vision 2041.

The plan also targets the reinstatement, at a cost of €12m, in the near future of the Foynes-Limerick rail line, which will enhance access to and from the port for large swathes of the country. The company will also seek the zoning of an additional 89 hectares of development land at Foynes for facilities at the port, including an additional 9,290sqm of new warehousing, to facilitate the anticipated 3% to 8% annual tonnage growth over the 30 year plan.  

The masterplan also anticipates the number of people employed in port activities increasing by 25% over the period of Vision 2041 with the economic benefits extending towards a much larger economic system.

The first major project to get under way will be the infilling of the East Jetty, a 12 month project employ-ing up to 150 people dur-ing construction, which is expected to commence in 2015 and will be completed at a cost of €12m. 

Vision 2041 will be subject to regular monitoring and a formal review every six to ten years, which is likely to entail further public consultation with all key stakeholders.   SFPC is also committed to con-tinuing compliance with all applicable environmental legislation and other relevant requirements in the pursuit of its duties and powers and will take these fully into account in all of its actions and decisions.