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Ulster Canal Restoration Works Pick Up Steam Heading Into 2021

11th November 2020
Work has been ongoing for many years to restore the Ulster Canal as a navigation and greenway Work has been ongoing for many years to restore the Ulster Canal as a navigation and greenway Photo: Wikimedia

Work on the second phase of restoring the Ulster Canal has picked up this year, with related projects now on track to be completed by 2023.

That was the message from Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien in a recent written response to a Dáil question from Matt Carthy, Sinn Fein TD for Cavan-Monaghan.

Funding secured in late 2019, with 25% matched by his department, enabled Waterways Ireland to carry out preliminary engineering studies for the restoration of an 800m stretch of the inland waterway between Clones and Clonfad on Co Monaghan, the minister confirmed.

Restoration works will also include construction of a new canal basin and amenity area; two new access bridges and restoration of an existing masonry arch bridge; and towpaths along the banks creating a looped walkway along the canal.

The studies included a commission to investigate sourcing a sustainable water supply; site investigation work for design proposals and project estimates; an economic appraisal; and a tourism and recreation study to assess opportunities for watersports and leisure adjacent to the Ulster Canal Stores Visitor Centre in Clones.

The minister added that work relating to land requirements and purchase arrangements for this section has also commenced, and will facilitate the submission of a Category 1 application to the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund by Tuesday 1 December.

Subject to securing further investment, Waterways Ireland proposes delivering this phase of the restoration over the years 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Meanwhile, Minister O’Brien also confirmed that plans for the wider Ulster Canal Greenway are moving apace, with planning applications for its first phase to be submitted this month.

The Ulster Canal Greenway will create 22km of new cross-border greenway between Smithborough and Middletown. The project consists of two stages.

First is the cross-border section from Monaghan town to Middletown, with planning applications on both sides of the border due to be submitted by the end of this month.

Plans are in train for the second stage, from Smithborough to Monaghan town, with planning approval expected to be in place by mid-2021.

Tenders for construction will be developed in the latter part of 2021, with a view to awarding contracts the following year and seeing construction completed by mid-2023.

“Council staff will jointly develop and coordinate delivery of community engagement programmes in each council area to promote use of the developed greenway,” the minister added.

Published in Inland Waterways
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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