The Waterford business community was out in force on Thursday, June 20th to attend the Chamber business after-hours event at the Port of Waterford in Belview.

Guests were welcomed by the Chairman of the Port John Treacey and treated to a tour of the activity port side and enjoyed some insights into the latest success at the Port and upcoming business developments from the Port CEO David Sinnott.

Speaking at the event David said, “The history of Waterford City and the history of the Port are closely linked and for 900 of those 1100 years, the Port was the economic engine of the city.  Considering recent announcements and the release of DMAPS for offshore wind development, the link between the City, the Region and the Port will become even more intrinsically linked for the next 100 years.

David focused on three main points during his speech, the importance of the close ties between the agribusiness community in the region and the Port, and the fact that the Port facilitates the import of more than one million tonnes of raw material for the Southeast dairy industry each year.

The increasing use of the Port by businesses ensures the delivery of a 27% carbon reduction for businesses who use container shipping via the Port of Waterford versus using Dublin Port. The Port closes the loop on transport emissions ensuring a sustainable-friendly journey in the locality.

David said, “In 2023, 94% of all the export containers that left the Port of Waterford were from four Southeast counties - Waterford, Kilkenny, Wexford and Carlow. I thank the businesses behind these containers who already make that 27% carbon saving for us all and I hope to double the number of export containers from the Southeast shortly – I’d very much like to feel the pressure from businesses in the region to deliver new the shipping routes to make this happen.” 

In addition, David outlined the future strategic vision and Port Masterplan. “Within that master plan, we have prioritised the infrastructure needed to get the Port ORE ready. We are pleased to be part of the South East Offshore Taskforce and I am pleased that this task force has commissioned a study that will highlight the economic benefit for the area.”

Speaking on the potential economic impact for the region from the Offshore wind farm development, David says, “Let’s consider just two of the areas on the DMAP being built out.  Each wind farm will cost 4 to 5 billion to build; following commissioning it will operate for 25 to 30 years. If the right Port facilities are in place relevant industries will be located in Port areas. Imagine if just 5% of the total cost was to be spent locally that would equate to 200 million of an additional economic stimulus for the region. If two wind farms were to be built out, you could more than double this figure. That is the equivalent of 3 North Quays projects.

I believe it would have a transformational impact on the regional economy and the City of Waterford for the ¾ of a million people who will be living around here by 2040.”

Also speaking at the event President of Waterford Chamber Niall Harrington said, “Waterford Port is progressing with the expansion and development of the port and port-related activity. The initial expansion will require €17m of investment that will allow for Port activity growth.  

Waterford Chamber sees the business potential of the Port of Waterford, whereby off-shore wind production in the Celtic Seas could transform the Port into the equivalent of what Aberdeen is to North Sea oil. As part of the South East Off Shore Wind Task Group, we can see exactly how Waterford and our region, in collaboration with our Port, can create an enduring sustainable business opportunity that will underpin the region’s economy and GDP.

When you factor in the spin-off potential, from an educational and research perspective around a ‘green energy hub’, with the development of alternative fuels etc, the opportunity is enormous and one we must, as a region, strive to grasp. 

Yes we face many challenges, but we already have a number of key ingredients to hand, like the proximity of Waterford Port to the planned wind farms. The first wind farms are fixed bed construction and the only fixed bed farms planned, whereas all the other wind farms are proposed as floating technology and that tech is still in development stages. Coupled with the current power station, Great Island and the ESB European Interconnector Cable, all within 250m of the Port of Waterford, it is incumbent on us to grasp this opportunity and work collectively and collaboratively to deliver on this potential - this is truly generational changing. Our ask from the Government is the initial €17m of investment to expand the Port as planned. Waterford Chamber is hosting an event in the coming weeks in Leinster House, especially around the opportunity and challenges to deliver offshore wind to the Waterford coast, where we will have a collective of Government Ministers, Oireachtas members, Secretary Generals and key stakeholders, so we can drive this agenda forward and deliver for Waterford.”