COULD Athy become home to a container loading/unloading depot at some point? Local councillor Brian Dooley certainly thinks so.
Cllr Dooley raised the topic in a motion at the recent October meeting of Kildare Co Council, seeking that the council explore with Iarnród Éireann the possibility of such a depot in south Kildare which he said could lead to huge economic development and opportunities for freight forwarders, industries and businesses while reducing the carbon footprint of HGVs.
It was originally suggested that if the members agreed a letter would be sent to Iarnród Éireann, but Cllr Dooley later sought a meeting. He explained that he has worked in Dublin Port for over 20 years and commented on how busy it is, and said that the biggest issue is moving cargo down the country.
Cllr Dooley said that he has seen small towns elsewhere set up freight depots and benefit economically, drawing in industries. “I think it would be very beneficial,” he said.
His fellow Athy Municipal District councillor Mark Wall added that Athy has land beside the railway station and that it should be investigated. “I think Athy would be a great hub,” he remarked.
Cllr Patricia Ryan queried whether haulage companies will lose out, though Cllr Dooley noted that such companies will still have to bring cargo from the depot to the final destination. He added that hauliers could have a three-hour wait in Dublin Port.
Speaking to the Kildare Nationalist after the meeting, the councillor spoke enthusiastically about the potential for such a depot in the town. He said that with regard to setting such things up “it’s not massive money”, that the land and infrastructure is there and it’s a matter of perhaps leasing a machine to lift containers on and off the line.
He noted that if it’s something that Iarnród Éireann wouldn’t deem to be feasible, there’s the possibility of subcontracting to a haulage company. “There are plenty of hauliers that would definitely throw their name into a hat there for that,” he said.
Cllr Dooley also highlighted the potential for a direct slip road from the impending Southern Distributor Road, a project that’s still on target to open in Q1 2022 and which will undoubtedly make a hugely positive difference to the town.
“That’s the way I’m thinking anyway,” he said, noting that he hopes there will be positive feedback. “Hopefully that’s the way they’ll be thinking as well!”