Galway County Council has given the go ahead for the next phase of works on the expansion of Ros a Mhíl harbour to create more space for smaller boats.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has been granted planning permission for work on a new harbour area north of the existing facilities.
The full development, when completed, will create 77 berths, of which 63 will be standard berths for boats up to 8m in length, and 14 will be heavy duty berths for 8-11m vessels.
The small craft harbour will be made from floating pontoon units designed to rise and fall with the tide, and restrained with steel piles driven into the seabed.
In total, the Department plans to dredge or blast approximately 18,400m³ of soft material and bedrock, with an area of foreshore to be permanently reclaimed to protect the access road.
Improvement will also be made to the local access road, and 40 additional car parking spaces will be added to account for increased traffic.
This application is for Phase 3 of the project, consisting of the approach road, car park, footpath, and floating pontoons. Phase 1 has already been completed, and Phase 2 is under construction.
The new harbour is needed, the Department said in the application, as the two existing small boat harbours, used for a mixed of pleasure craft and small fishing boats, are at full capacity.
Planning permission was granted by the county council for the project with nine conditions attached.
A qualified underwater archaeologist must be appointed to monitor the dredging works, with the authority to stop dredging if material of interest is found.
Details of a proposed “dwarf wall” separating the car park from the Marina must also be submitted to the council before work begins.
A decision had originally been due from the county council by the end of April last, but further information was requested about the potential environmental impacts of the harbour project, animal surveys, and traffic management plans.