Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Joe Harrington

Second Advisor

Dr. Tony Lewis


Dredging involves raising material from a river or estuary bed to the surface and transporting it some distance for disposal or reuse. It may be required to improve navigational access, to allow for port development or for mining aggregates.

This thesis includes a literature review and a detailed study of the dredging industry in Ireland. This study is partly based on a nationwide survey undertaken on dredging and dredge disposal and reuse, the results of which are included in a dredging database created for this project. All the main stakeholders in the industry were invited to complete questionnaire forms for this study. The response rate was satisfactory. The study also includes a review of the current legislative and permitting framework within which the dredging industry operates and provides an overview of the current state and possible future of the Irish dredging industry.

The Irish dredging industry is small with a historical maintenance dredge requirement for the Republic of Ireland of approximately 1.0 to 1.2 million wet tonnes and for Northern Ireland of approximately 0.6 to 0.7 million wet tonnes. Dredging projects in Ireland generally use international contractors. Irish contractors undertake only a number of small dredging contracts. Maintenance dredge material is generally fine grained and most commonly disposed offshore. Approximately 50% of recent capital dredge material has been disposed offshore, the remainder finding some beneficial use primarily, trench backfilling, land reclamation and land improvement. Dredging projects in the Republic of Ireland currently operate within a rigorous legislative framework. The principal regulatory agency is the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources who provide approval for dredging projects and provide a licence for disposal of dredged material at sea. Others include the Environmental Protection Agency and Local Authorities. Current important issues for the dredging industry in Ireland identified include the cost of dredging for smaller ports with maintenance dredge requirements, the changing needs of the larger ports including rationalisation, development and larger vessels sizes, the need to manage contaminated sediments and finally the need to address forthcoming tighter environmental controls. Seamus Sutton

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