A preliminary hearing into a proposed expansion of Galway Harbour has been taking place ahead of the full An Bord Pleanála oral hearing.

The development, which has been planned for many years, would cost €126m.

The full hearing will begin in Galway next week and is expected to take around three weeks to complete.

The first module will deal with issues relating to ecology and hydrology.

Subsequent modules will look at other issues and include questioning and cross-examination of witnesses.

An Bord Pleanála senior inspector Paul Caprani told this morning's hearing that a lot of information would be submitted over the course of the hearing and that he envisaged a three-week timeframe for completion.

As well as submissions from prescribed bodies, 120 submissions have been made by individuals and other interested parties.

The Galway Harbour Company said 200 jobs would be created during construction and up to 800 jobs could eventually result, due to increased activity at the port.

The company's chief executive Eamon Bradshaw has said expansion is vital for the economic advancement of the western region.