Could The Heritage Bill destroy the Navigations it should be protecting? That's the view of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI).
In a long running campaign, the IWAI has received strong political support for its view that this proposed legislation must put user requirements, tourism development and local communities at the centre of the regulations.
The Heritage Bill 2016 is currently before the Dáil. With several Amendments still to be considered by the Oireachtas, The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) is hopeful that the final shape of the Bill has the potential to unlock a bright future for the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Barrow Navigation that will put user requirements, tourism development and local communities at the centre of the regulations.
Could The Heritage Bill destroy the Navigations it should be protecting?
The Bill is scheduled for debate by the Select Committee on Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht this Wednesday afternoon. Once again there is strong political support for the IWAI view but concerns remain with the proposed legislation, this is reflected by the number of Amendments on the table for discussion on Wednesday.
The main areas of concern relate to
• new complicated legal licensing, - rather than the need to legislate for a simple permitting system that is customer friendly, easy to use, and fit for purpose
• Adequate provisions - so that boats of dimensions for which the canals were built to accommodate are protected and can continue to do so into the future
• proposed provision and powers of Authorised Officers
• legislation that will facilitate the introduction of a complete different set of rules and regulations that are not in place on the adjoining Waterways, and will make these canals less attractive to potential boating tourism
Ireland’s Canals as beautiful linear waterways have the potential to attract both domestic and International boating visitors who will relish the tranquil opportunity of slow tourism cruising at walking pace as people move faster than the canal boats on the system, while experiencing the associated industrial heritage, peat lands, small villages and towns that have interdependence with the canals and our capital city.
To achieve this potential it is vital that the Heritage Bill 2016 preserves and enables the development of the canals for the current and future generations and communities. Over regulation and excessive charges are not the answer to developing these waterways; they deserve proper legislation that put user requirements, local communities and tourism at the centre of the regulations.