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Displaying items by tag: Waterways Ireland

Waterways Ireland wishes to advise masters of vessels on the Shannon Navigation that Athlone Lock will be temporarily closed from next Monday 1 November until Wednesday 3 November inclusive to facilitate flood relief works.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland is calling on members of the public to have their say on its new Climate Action Plan, the public consultation for which is now open.

This is the cross-border navigation authority’s first climate action plan. Focused on the decade to 2030, it sets out the vision for how Waterways Ireland will reach its key climate action targets.

This includes reducing emissions by at least 51% and improving energy efficiency by at least 50%. It also addresses Waterways Ireland’s aim to be a net zero organisation by 2050.

The draft Climate Action Plan details the seven objectives Waterways Ireland has identified as being essential to delivering on its climate ambitions.

The first two are centred on people and processes: setting out how Waterways Ireland will deliver through collaboration and engagement, and by leveraging its assets. The other five objectives focus on delivering across climate mitigation and climate adaptation. The integrated objectives align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Commenting on the plan, Waterways Ireland chief executive John McDonagh said: “Waterways Ireland is the custodian of Ireland’s inland navigable waterways and we see climate change as a critical challenge for our organisation and its stakeholders.

“As the body responsible for vital shared heritage across the island of Ireland, we have both an opportunity and a responsibility to take a leadership role in climate action. We will enthusiastically take on that mantle by identifying transformative and innovative ways to engage in climate action initiatives over the lifetime of the plan.”

Under the draft plan, Waterways Ireland commits to considering climate action in decisions around the acquisition, operation, maintenance and disposal of its assets, as well as the procurement of energy, consumables and third-party services.

These activities will be supported by targeted actions and initiatives in priority areas to implement climate mitigation and adaptation measures.

Progress in achieving key results will be measured quarterly, ensuring that activities are agile and can keep pace with carbon budgets and other measures developed for the sector.

“The draft plan reflects our commitment to take meaningful climate action to protect our inland waterways so they can continue to be enjoyed into the future. This includes adapting the waterways network to address climate change risks and reviewing programmes on an ongoing basis,” McDonagh added.

“Transport and energy are key target areas for us, and we will focus on targeting the decarbonisation of the buildings, infrastructure, assets and fleet responsible for the greatest proportion of our emissions.

“We have been moving in the right direction for a number of years. However, we recognise the need to be consistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the ambitions of the governments of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“The draft Waterways Ireland Climate Action Plan is highly ambitious and through its implementation, climate action will become integral to Waterways Ireland’s operations and developments. We encourage anyone with an interest in this area to have a look at the draft plan and to submit their observations.”

The draft Waterways Ireland Climate Action Plan can be found on the Waterways Ireland website HERE. Submissions can be made via email or post, details of which can be found at the previous link.

The closing date for submissions is Monday 17 January 2022. Following the 12-week consultation, submissions will be reviewed and the final Climate Action Plan will be prepared.

Waterways Ireland is hosting a Q&A webinar on the draft Climate Action Plan at 7pm on Thursday 11 November. To reserve your place, email [email protected]

Published in Inland Waterways

Amid concerns over reduced water levels this year on the Grand and Royal Canals, Afloat.ie reader and former Oireachtas policy advisor Cathal Murphy fears for the future of Ireland’s inland waterways

Water levels on the canals plummeted over recent months. This was seen on the Royal Canal and Grand Canal and along the latter’s Barrow Line. They were so bad in parts that boats could not move on these 200-year-old navigations.

The water levels in parts were allegedly down over half a metre, the lowest in living memory. These historic pieces of heritage are under threat because if water levels continue to decrease they will not survive.

Is it structural problems? Is climate change responsible? The answers are yet to be found. The canals are supposed to have a stable water level, they are supplied off feeders which are water sources redirected from rivers.

These canals are great pieces of engineering, naturally maintaining their levels for boats to navigate. But suddenly after two centuries of functional infrastructure, we are seeing boats halted as water levels shrink.

The State at the moment is putting millions into greenway and blueway routes along these canals, but without the water and the boats these will become just paths along empty trenches in the countryside. It should be a basic function to keep water levels up as has been done for the past 200 years.

Illustrating the reduction in water levels on the Barrow Line in Co Laois in September 2021 | Credit: Cathal MurphyIllustrating the reduction in water levels on the Barrow Line in Co Laois in September 2021 | Credit: Cathal Murphy

It is not just the heritage affected. These waterways maintain immense biodiversity. Low water levels increase algal blooms, with devastating effects on fish and other invertebrates that use the habitat of the canal.

There is huge cultural and historical importance to the canals, forming a network upon which nature flourishes, history is functioning and people travel. Ireland needs them. They encourage tourism from both home and abroad so people can navigate these waterways like the canals of England and France.

Waterways Ireland, who maintain the canals, have said previously that low levels are due to leaks and not enough machinery to maintain the feeders that supply the canal, and maintain canal navigation.

Although this year we have seen some of the lowest levels, this has been an ongoing issue for a decade. This year marine notices stated that water levels were down 45cm in late August, and anecdotally they were down 60cm from Monastarevin to Athy along the Barrow Line.

The drying up of our canals is happening in front of our eyes. Some interim measures have been taken that have seen a rise in water levels in recent weeks but these are not long-term.

Whatever the reason for the water disappearing, the canals need to be protected, and to be seen as the asset of the State that they really are — and an amenity to all.

Published in Your Say

Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels on the Shannon Navigation that Clarendon Lock in Co Roscommon will be closed from Tuesday 2 November until January.

This is due to essential works required to the lock in advance of replacement of lock gates planned for winter 2022/23.

Elsewhere on the inland waterway, masters and owners are advised that instream work on the new slipway south of the Athlone Lock have ceased (and on the east bank some 200m south of the weir).

Works will recommence in May 2022. Temporary yellow markers are in place around the extremities of the works area. Masters of vessels are advised to proceed with additional caution at slow speed and keep to the west bank while navigating in this area.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Royal Canal Greenway is the place to be this upcoming Halloween with 16 spooktacular events happening all along the 225-year-old Royal Canal this mid-term break.

The greenway, which is the longest in Ireland at 130km, encompasses four counties — Kildare, Longford, Meath and Westmeath — and has an abundance of stops with plenty of activities for all interests this Halloween including a haunted train, a spine-tingling med-evil exhibition, a Halloween feast and even a spooky science camp!

Sharon Lavin of Waterways Ireland said: “We are thrilled to have such a wide variety of offerings this Halloween along the Royal Canal Greenway. Across all four counties through which the Royal Canal Greenway travels we have something for everyone throughout the week.

“Whether you want to spend your days enjoying leisurely walks in the countryside or entertaining the family between cycle stops you are sure to find what you are looking for. It’s easy to stay over and keep exploring.”

Waterways Ireland has put together a handy list of events to make sure you avoid the horror of missing out this Halloween — but be sure to act fast as booking is essential for many of these happenings.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels on the Shannon Navigation that an underwater archaeological survey adjacent to Wansboro Field, Athlone will take place this Friday 22 October.

The survey is expected to run from 9am to 2pm, and all vessels are asked to take additional care when underway in this area of the inland waterway within the aforementioned hours.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels on the Royal Canal that a breach in the canal has occurred in the vicinity of Richmond Harbour.

A significant reduction in water levels has occurred on the level between Locks 45 and 46 on the inland waterway.

Repair works commenced today, Monday 18 October, but there will be no access to Richmond Harbour from the Camlin River or from the eastern side through Lock 45 until further notice.

Masters and owners of boats moored in Richmond Harbour are advised to check on their boat regularly as water levels stabilise and rise again. Waterways Ireland says further updates will be provided in due course.

Published in Inland Waterways

Waterways Ireland advises masters of vessels on the Shannon Navigation that the Underwater Archaeology Unit of the National Monuments Service will be carrying out diving operations this week.

From tomorrow, Monday 11 to next Sunday 17 October, dives will be taking place in Portumna in Co Galway, from 500m north of Portumna bridge to Lough Derg, and at Ballymacegan Island within the old navigation channel in Co Tipperary, 7km north of Portumna bridge.

All vessels are asked to take additional care when underway in these areas. A safety boat will be in attendance and Flag Alpha will be flown during diving operations.

Published in Inland Waterways

Boat removals from Ireland’s canals jumped in 2020 — with the total for the year at 150% of the previous four years combined.

The figures were revealed by Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan in his response to a Dáil question from Dun Laoghaire TD Cormac Devlin requesting a breakdown of the number of boats removed from rivers, canals and inland waterways between 2016 and 2020.

Across the canals network (and excluding the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway) under the jurisdiction of Waterways Ireland, a total of 45 boats deemed to be in breach of bye-laws were removed in 2020.

This compares to just seven the previous year, 17 in 2018, none in 2017 and seven in 2016 — a total of 31 in the four years leading to 2020.

On the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway, the figures over the last three years were more consistent, with 17 removals in 2020, 12 in 2019 and 15 in 2018. There were no removals on these waterways in 2017 or 2016.

Minister Noonan noted that the rise in removals on the canals last year can be credited to a compliance programme initiated by Waterways Ireland “to remove abandoned, sunken and non-compliant boats, vessels and structures from the canals network”.

He added: “This programme by the agency has resulted in improved water quality, improved compliance, and removed many unsightly boats, vessels and structures from the waterways.”

The Canals Bye Laws 1988 and the Shannon Navigation Bye Laws 1992 provide Waterways Ireland with the powers to remove boats, vessels and other structures that are in breach of the bye-laws.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a number of live-aboard barge owners on the Grand Canal feared losing their homes under last year’s removal drive.

But they were spared at the 11th hour when Minister Noonan stepped in to promise engagement with Waterways Ireland on a long-term solution.

Published in Inland Waterways

The 130km Royal Canal Greenway from Maynooth to Cloondara was launched in March this year and proved a big hit with locals and visitors alike over the summer months, according to Waterways Ireland.

Now the cross-border body for Ireland’s inland waterways has commissioned Tracsis Traffic Data to gain feedback and delve deeper into who the greenway’s users are and how they’re using it via an online survey this month.

“We want to understand how the Royal Canal Greenway is contributing to the visitor economy across the counties of Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford,” Waterways Ireland says.

If you have recently visited the Royal Canal Greenway anywhere between Maynooth to Cloondara, the short five-minute survey asks you to share your thoughts on the experience.

The link is also available via QR codes placed along the greenway, and there’s a chance to win a €100 shopping voucher for those taking part. The closing date for the survey is Sunday 31 October.

Published in Inland Waterways
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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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