Port threat to Bremore Passage Tombs

by Frank McDonald - The Irish Times, 2nd September 2009

Bremore Passage Tombs
View north from Bremore, Co. Dublin

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 Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth”.

"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.

Campaign against new Bremore port

Fingal Independent - Wednesday 23rd December 2009

The Save Bremore group has launched its campaign against the proposed siting of Drogheda Port just outside Balbriggan at the pioneering Martin Brennan conference at Newgrange. The aim of the group is to highlight the threat of major industrial development and the choice of venue for the launch became apparent as eminent archaeologist Professor George Eogan pointed out that Bremore may have been the first point of entry for the settlements of what is now known as Fingal / East Meath and the Boyne Valley area. The heritage in question here consists of the Bremore Passage Tomb Complex - a National Monument, a series of several unclassified monuments in the Knocknagin townland as well as the mid 16th century Newhaven Bay.

Joe Fenwick, Dept of Archaeology, NUI Galway, told the Save Bremore group that 'in terms of archaeological importance, the passage tomb cemetery at Bremore can be compared with The Mound of the Hostages; one of the earliest monuments to have been built on the Hill of Tara'.

According to the group, the Bremore-Gormanston coastline is among the most beautiful and unspoiled areas of coast left on the north east side of Ireland.

New deepwater port may be moved north to avoid tombs

Port developers anxious to avoid 'very significant' neolithic complex, writes by Frank McDonald - The Irish Times - 23rd February 2010

A proposed deepwater container port at Bremore in north Co Dublin may be moved farther north to Gormanston, Co Meath, to avoid encroaching on a Neolithic complex of passage tombs. A spokesman for Treasury Holdings, which is planning to develop the new facility in partnership with Drogheda Port, confirmed yesterday that one of the options now being considered was to “shift it off Bremore headland” for archaeological reasons.

He said it had become clear at an early stage that the Neolithic complex at Bremore was “very significant”, and the developers would be anxious to avoid it by examining alternative locations, such as Gormanston. However, no final decision has been taken.

One of the constraints is that the Gormanston site is partly covered by an EU-designated special protection area (SPA) for wild birds. It is also believed to contain another archaeological complex, though this is not thought to be as significant as the one located at Bremore. “We've done a significant amount of preliminary work, including archaeological investigations by Margaret Gowen and Company,” the spokesman said, adding that Treasury would now be taking on an environmental specialist to assess the Gormanston option.

Treasury acquired options to purchase several landholdings at Bremore before entering into partnership with Drogheda Port, but it is understood the company holds none for Gormanston. Land in the area would be cheaper to acquire now due to the property crash. “We now have to work through the environmental issues as well as the cultural heritage and archaeological issues,” the spokesman said. He added that Treasury and its partners would be consulting with “all the various interests”, such as An Taisce, which it has met already.

It is likely to be autumn before a firmer proposal will be put out for consultation. “Ireland needs a deepwater port; the IDA (Industrial Development Authority) is conscious that we are losing projects because we don't have one,” according to the spokesman.

An Taisce's monuments and antiquities committee has warned that any port development at Bremore would “completely obliterate a passage tomb cemetery of Neolithic date with affinities to Newgrange and a mid-16th century historic harbour site”. Commenting on the possibility that it could be relocated to Gormanston, committee chairman Dr Mark Clinton said it would be likely to affect a sandy beach “most beloved in the locality” and shoreline that forms part of the river Nanny SPA. Any such plan would require a full assessment of its environmental effects to be prepared and placed before the public prior to being approved.

“It would appear that the exact opposite of these legal requirements is in motion,” Dr Clinton said. He also queried the need for a new port, noting that throughput at Drogheda Port had fallen by 50 per cent in 2008, according to its most recent set of accounts, while business at Dublin Port was down by 10 per cent. “There is no need for a new deepwater port,” he said.

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