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Plans advancing for Westport Harbour Marina


PHASE ONE The planned Westport Marina development. Image courtesy of Kilkelly Geo Spatial Surveyors

An exciting review of a plan to create a marina facility at Westport Quay is currently being undertaken by an independent group consisting of local business and community leaders, water sport enthusiasts, and experienced engineers. They have been working with Westport Tourism Organisation, who have been actively looking at development options for Westport Harbour, and have presented their findings to other local organisations including Westport Chamber of Commerce, Destination Westport, Quay business owners and resident’s groups, Mayo County Council, local and national politicians, and other major stakeholders. This plan features the possibility of the addition of a 136-berth marina at the iconic Westport Quay area. This new development promises to fully realise the potential of the area which has been too often described as being underutilised. The careful addition of berthing facilities at a newly created marina promises to put Westport and Westport Quay on the map as a destination for marine and fishing enthusiasts both nationally and beyond. This review examines the development of marina facilities in two phases.

First phase
The first phase involves the creation of marina berths on the harbour side of Westport Quay. It will include a 100-tonne travel hoist, boat yard, marina office, and toilet block facilities. This development can be achieved with relative ease as some of the key infrastructure for this development is already in place at the harbour side. Dredging of the main channel is also not required. These factors all contribute to a minimally invasive environmental impact. The area earmarked for phase 1 will put the marina at a comfortable walking distance to existing amenities at Westport Quay and promises both a significant visual improvement to the area along with a boost in vibrance and economic activity.
Phase 2 focuses on the body of water across from the current harbour area and envisions a larger marina with a larger berth capacity than what is possible in phase 1. It poses greater challenges from an engineering and resourcing perspective. This phase does, however, open up greater possibilities for water activities featuring non-mechanically propelled craft (dinghy sailing, kayaking, swimming etc).
Plans for this kind of development at Westport Quay are not new. Blueprints dating as far back as the late 1800s have been found which feature drawings which add tidal lock gates on the harbour side of the Carrowbeg River estuary. In 2004, Mayo County Council commissioned a feasibility report to assess marina options at Westport Quay. In 2005 this report was finalised and concluded that a marina with ancillary service buildings, yards and a commercial area should be developed in the Carrowbeg River along the existing Quay wall with lock gates. This latest review was self-financed and builds on previous reports by carrying out essential engineering, topographical, drone, and physical depth surveys at both low and high tide. These works were carried out by Kilkelly Geo Spatial Surveyors at no cost to the review group.
The group feel this new development has the potential to re-energise the Westport Quay area and attract a community of leisure boaters and tourists to the area. The addition of a marina adds another jewel to an already impressive repertoire of tourism pull factors that Westport boasts. Westport, Westport Quay, and the west of Ireland as a whole will benefit from the generation of a novel water-based tourism and leisure industry in the area. It opens Westport up to a completely new tourism market that will increase the tourist footfall in the area without adding to traffic or parking pressures in the town as visitors can sail in and sail out. Increased marine activities will also contribute to the local economy.

Increased foot-fall
Shops and the hospitality sector will benefit from increased footfall. Business opportunities in marine chandlery and boat repair services will be opened up. Finally, non-maritime folk could also benefit from the extension of the already popular greenway trail to feature a new start and end point at the new vibrant Westport Marina.
The development of a marina at Westport dovetails with the larger longer-term plans of developing a necklace of marinas and safe harbour landing facilities along the western seaboard. This will further enhance marine leisure tourism and associated supporting commercial activities throughout the county.
Moving forward, the next steps will include an environmental assessment and a more extensive public consultation that will ensure all stakeholders are well informed as the project progresses. After that will come a detailed engineering plan, planning permission, and foreshore licensing. A lot of work has already gone into this project and a lot more has yet to come. The value to Westport, its environs and entire Mayo area will be immeasurable, which makes the effort ever so worthwhile.

Enquiries should please be directed to westportmayo.marina@gmail.com.
The picture on the front page of Westport Quay is courtesy of Aerial Photography Mayo.


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