Management of dredge material in the Republic of Ireland – A review

Document Type



Civil and Environmental Engineering | Engineering

Publication Details

Waste Management

Volume 32, Issue 5, Pages 1031-1044


As an island nation the Republic of Ireland’s ports and harbours are key to the economic wellbeing of the country as they are the primary transport link to the United Kingdom, mainland Europe and beyond. This paper examines the main aspects of the Irish dredging industry with comparison to international practice and standards, including the source of the dredge material and volumes generated annually, the dredging plant employed and the management processes currently practised. Relevant European and Irish legislation governing dredging, disposal at sea and waste licensing are presented. The potential impacts of disposal at sea are discussed with the implications for the Irish dredging industry of recently introduced European Directives assessed. Beneficial use rates for dredge material and the techniques implemented in Ireland are examined and compared with international practice. Recent notable beneficial use projects for dredge material and proposed innovative dredge material management techniques for specific dredging projects in Ireland are presented. Proposals to encourage greater beneficial use of dredge material and minimise disposal at sea for Ireland are presented including the introduction of environmental credits, tax breaks and a grant system for pilot schemes. An alternative disposal at sea charge fee structure is also recommended to encourage alternative dredge material management practices. Ireland’s management of contaminated sediment is also presented with recent projects described highlighting the current practice of primarily exporting contaminated sediment to mainland Europe. Alternative methods of treatment of contaminated sediment are assessed in an Irish context. Future issues and challenges facing the Irish dredging industry are assessed and a critical analysis of the current approaches to dredge material management is presented.

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