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Displaying items by tag: Ulster Canal

#ulstercanal – Minister Humphreys joined Waterways Ireland on site this morning at the start of project works on the Ulster Canal at Derrykerrib Bridge.

After many years of planning and consideration, the Ulster Canal project has reached the stage of equipment on-site in the first phase of works required to extend the Erne navigation from its existing limit at Quivvy Lough to Castle Saunderson Estate. Minister Humphreys secured the approval from Government to proceed with the project in February 2015 and Waterways Ireland have moved quickly to ensure progress is made. This project has the potential to act as a catalyst for the regeneration of this border area. It will provide a wonderful recreational facility for local communities and should act as a significant draw for tourists.

The 3km channel will involve the construction of a new canal cutting and associated bridge with improved 'air draft' as the current Derrykerrib Bridge lacks sufficient space for boats to pass underneath. It is also planned to dredge the River Finn to increase depth for navigation.

On site the Minister saw ground investigation work being undertaken in advance of the main contract. The site investigation information will be used to inform the detailed design stage of the project. The site investigation works will consist of boreholes, trial pits, river bed sampling and contaminant analysis.

Minister Heather Humphreys said "After so many years of talking, it is great to finally see works underway on the restoration of the Ulster Canal between Upper Lough Erne and Castle Saunderson. After securing approval from the Government for this project earlier this year, I have been very keen to see works getting underway as soon as possible.
I have no doubt that this project will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of this border area. It will provide a wonderful recreational facility for local communities and will help to attract tourists into the region.
I am also very pleased that Waterways Ireland is working with Monaghan County Council on the possible development of off-road cycling and walking facilities along the route. This would help to further maximise the benefits of the restoration of the Canal for the wider community."

Dawn Livingstone, Chief Executive, Waterways Ireland confirmed "Waterways Ireland is proceeding with the work on the Ulster Canal as Minister Humphreys has secured the approval needed. Preliminary works will be completed shortly enabling Waterways Ireland to begin dredging in summer 2015 and to have the works completed to Castle Saunderson in 2016. "

Published in Inland Waterways

#ulstercanal – Waterways Ireland has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys that she has secured Government approval for the restoration of an initial section of the Ulster canal from Lough Erne to Castle Saunderson.

Waterways Ireland has received planning permission for this work.

Work on the Ulster Canal will involve dredging a 2km section of the Erne River and the construction of a new navigation arch at Derrykerrib Bridge to accommodate boat traffic.

Work will commence on the project in April 2015 and is expected to be completed 12 months later.

Dawn Livingstone Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland stated "The development of the Ulster Canal will be a welcome economic and tourism boost to the area. Waterways Ireland will continue to work closely with the Minister and her officials to bring this project to a successful completion."

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaterways - NI Environment Minister Alex Attwood has finally announced planning permission to restore part of the historic Ulster Canal that has not been used since 1929.

The original Ulster Canal was completed in 1841 and linked the Erne System to Lough Neagh with a 93km navigation route. It was last used for trading boats in 1929 and officially closed two years later.

The application is to restore 14km of the navigational route in total - 5.5km or river navigation from Quivvy Lough to Gortnacarrow and 8.5km of canal from Gortnacarrow to Clones.

This will involve construction of the existing canal route and tow paths for public access on both banks. New road bridges are to be constructed at Derrykerrib, Wattle Bridge, Gortnacarrow and Clonfad/Munilly with three farm accommodation bridges.

The plan is to restore two existing canal bridges and a double lock at Gortnacarrow that will facilitate a rise from the River Finn to the canal section. A mooring of 170m with 32 car parking spaces and public toilets will be provided at Gortnacarrow. A picnic area and a further 20 parking spaces will be provided at the new bridge at Clonfad/Munilly.

Minister Attwood said: “The Ulster Canal restoration project has been a key heritage and tourist attraction for a long time, which has gathered momentum since the late 90s. Today is a turning point for the project. I hope the Planners’ green light means the project can accelerate.

“This is an example of cross-border initiatives working and working well. It follows from my announcement to give planning permission to the bridge at Narrow Water, linking Warrenpoint and Omeath.

“This cross-border project will be a boost for the people of Fermanagh, Cavan and Monaghan. It will re-open a historic waterway that has not been used for over 80 years and offers huge opportunities for regeneration and leisure-related activities for the entire region.”

Four accompanying applications for Listed Building Consent to carry out works to repair and restore three listed bridges and works to the Clones Aqueduct have also been approved.

Northern Ireland's Department of the Environment consulted Fermanagh District Council on its opinion to approve this application on 18 April 2013.

Monaghan County Council and Clones Town Council have signalled that planning approval should be granted for the Repubic side of the canal - although moves have been slow on that front.

Despite confirmation from Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan in April 2012 that the "main thrust" of waterways refurbishment is still focused on the reopening of the Ulster Canal, no significant moves have been made in the year since that statement, which came some months after a U-turn in Government funding for such projects.

Published in Inland Waterways
10th July 2012

Controlling The Canals

I wrote recently that the terms of Waterways Ireland's licence agreement for the "Extended Term Serviced Mooring Vacancies" at Shannon Harbour could be easily adapted for use elsewhere on the canals. That might allow WI to begin to bring the long-term berthers, residential or otherwise, under control. And so it proves. We have received this press release from Waterways Ireland.

 

WI Press Release

Waterways Ireland has recognised that many boat owners wish to stay for a more extended period in a single location than the 5 days the annual Canal Mooring and Passage Permit (under the Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-laws), 1988) currently allows.

In response, Waterways Ireland intends to issue an Extended Mooring Licence granting a boat owner the right to leave their boat in one location for longer than 5 days. This permit will enable the holder to moor in a position allocated by Waterways Ireland on a soft bank area of navigation property for a period of up to 1 year. The Extended Mooring Licence will cost e152 per annum.

The application process for the Extended Mooring Licence will open in the autumn when all existing permit holders will be contacted.

All boat owners will still require an annual Canal Mooring and Passage Permit allowing the holder to cruise and pass through locks. Boat owners with a Canal Mooring and Passage Permit proposing to stay longer in one location than 5 days can then apply for the Extended Mooring Licence. The total fee to hold both the Permit and the Licence in 2012/2013 will be e278.

For boat owners with the Canal Mooring and Passage Permit who do not hold an Extended Mooring Licence, the 5-day rule (in the one place or within 500m of that location) will still apply. Waterways Ireland will enforce this bye-law from autumn 2012.

Waterways Ireland will be contacting permit holders regularly between now and autumn 2012 to ensure they are kept up to date with the roll-out of the new permit. All queries about the enforcement of the current bye-laws or the Extended Mooring Licence should be directed to Shane Anderson, Assistant Inspector of Navigation: Tel no +353 (0)87 286 5726, Email [email protected]

These changes are necessary steps to improve the management of the canals and waterway amenities for both the navigational and recreational user, so that investment in the new infrastructure and facilities which Waterways Ireland has undertaken is maximised for every user.

Comment

About time too. I welcome this development: WI has to be able to control who uses its waterways and the uses they make of them.

The proposed charge is surprisingly modest. It is the same for all areas, those of high and of low demand: it might have been difficult to implement differential charging. However, the new licence does not apply to hard-edged areas; I presume therefore that WI intends to keep them clear for visitors.

It is significant that the new control mechanism is a licence, not a permit. Waterways Ireland had been hoping to bring in a single set of bye-laws to cover all its navigations, but it proved to be very difficult to do that within two jurisdictions. Accordingly, I understand that WI now intends to seek amendments to the bye-laws for the Republic, allowing it (inter alia) to increase the charges for various permits. However, the Canals Act 1986 allows WI to issue licences, and they are not subject to the restrictions in the bye-laws.

 

Royal water

The fragility of the water supply to the Royal Canal was shown in April, when Waterways Ireland closed the summit level of the canal because of low water levels; the 34th and 35th levels were also closed for emergency repairs. At time of writing, WI is hoping to be able to re-open the summit level on 1 June. Some boats that had intended to go west along the Royal to the Shannon were forced to go east instead, through Dublin and along the Grand Canal; happily, Effin Bridge, the lifting bridge at North Strand Road, worked properly this year.

The Royal always had fewer feeders than the Grand. The summit level was fed from Lough Owel, north of Mullingar, but while the canal was closed, Westmeath County Council found it needed more drinking water for the Mullingar area. In dry conditions, the Lough Owel feeder cannot meet both needs.

With great foresight, CIE (which then owned the canal) got the Council to agree that, if the canal was to be re-opened, it would provide an alternative supply.

Nowadays, environmental regulations mean that water abstraction needs more thought, more planning and more factors to be considered. Extensive studies were carried out and WI and the County Council agreed that the best possible alternative source was Lough Ennell, which is south of Mullingar: water could be pumped from there to the canal. The Council had to apply to An Bord Pleanála for permission; it has just completed oral hearings in Mullingar.

 

Traditional boats

In the first half of the nineteenth century, anyone travelling to the seaside resort of Kilkee could take the steamer to Kilrush and travel onward by road. But the passenger traffic was initially established by the turf boats of the Shannon Estuary: most of Limerick's fuel came from Poulnasherry, west of Kilrush, and was carried by small sailing boats, which also carried a few passengers.

A 24' replica of one of these boats was launched recently at Querrin, at the entrance to Poulnasherry. The Sally O'Keeffe was built by the Seol Sionna group http://seolsionna.org/, which grew out of the West Clare Currach Club. The boat will be used for sailing training. The Shannon Estuary, which is insufficiently appreciated, has a wealth of traditional boat types, but there were no extant Shannon hookers, so it is nice to see their return.

On the same weekend, another of those traditional boat types was featured in Limerick. The Ilen Wooden Boat Building School http://ilen.ie/gandelow-races/ had built five gandelows, boats used in the upper reaches of the estuary, and conducted races in the city.

And the Thomastown Regatta, on the Nore http://www.happyvalleyfestival.com/ebooklet.pdf, will feature traditional cots and racing boats: the 1905 racing cot Nore Lass, owned by the O'Farrell family, will be on display at the Grennan Mill Craft School.

 

Here are some updates I wrote about recently...

Water charges

The EU Commission sent a Reasoned Opinion to Ireland in November 2011, suggesting that Ireland had not correctly implemented the provisions of the Water Framework Directive that require "a cost recovery policy for water services that includes the environmental and resource costs of water use". The Commission believes that cost recovery should be extended to many other water uses, including hydroelectricity generation and the supply of water to navigations. Having got an extension of the deadline for replying, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government responded to the Commission. I asked for a copy of the response, but the department won't tell anybody what it's doing. I am appealing that decision, but without much hope.

 

Traffic

Waterways Ireland has kindly given me the Shannon traffic figures for the first four months of 2012. The numbers of movements in those months are always low, and can be significantly affected by the weather, so there can be quite a lot of variation between one year and another without its indicating any long-term trend. For example, back in 2002, there were 4875 boat movements in the first four months; the figure was up to 6204 in 2003 but back down to 5304 in 2004. It's important therefore not to read too much into the figures, but a five-year moving average suggests that traffic has been falling since 2007. The figure for 2012 was 4052. It will be interesting to see whether better weather balances economic gloom in the rest of the year.

 

Mineral Oil Tax

In the last issue, I gave the figures for the numbers of Mineral Oil Tax returns received by Revenue from owners of diesel-powered boats in the first two years of the scheme's operation. They told me that they got 38 returns in 2010 for the year 2009 and 41 in 2011 for 2010. I now have the figure for the following year, the returns made in 2012 for the year 2011. There was a very significant change, of 46%, but unfortunately it was downward, to 22. The Revenue Commissioners tell me that "[...] there were 22 returns received by 1 March 2012 for 2011, amounting to e53,398.58 MOT [Mineral Oil Tax] on 141,503.29 litres oil." That's an average of 6432.1 litres each, which is a lot, so I suspect that much of the total came from the hire fleet, with less than twenty private owners making returns.

 

Royal and Ulster Canals

I said, in the last issue, that I did not understand how the cost of the restoration of the Royal Canal, 146 km with 46 locks, could be less than the expected cost of the canal to Clones, 13 km with one double lock. It has been explained to me that the figure for the Royal was essentially only the marginal cost, recorded (initially) under Civil Service accounting procedures, so that it understates the total cost. It would be a huge job to try to find the full cost using modern accounting conventions, but unfortunately that means that we have no usable figure for the cost of the Royal, no basis for estimating the return on investment and no guideline on the value of any future restorations.

Published in Brian Goggin

#INLAND WATERWAYS - Three months on from Minister Jimmy Deenihan's statement on the Ulster Canal regeneration project, and there is little to update on its progress.

As reported on Afloat.ie last December, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht replied to a written question from Cork East Sinn Féin deputy Sandra McLennan that the project is "progressing'"despite a U-turn on Government funding, and confirmed that Waterways Ireland would solely fund the scheme from its annual allocations.

However, the minister's latest response - to a question from Cavan-Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin requesting an update on the project's progress - is almost identical to his previous statement.

One small difference is an acknowledgement that Cavan County Council has granted planning permission for the project, which involves restoration of the canal between Clones in Co Monaghan and Upper Lough Erne.

Minister Deenihan also stated that his department is "finalising terms of reference" for the proposed inter-agency group that would examine ways to further the project, but gave no timeframe as to when this group would be established.

Published in Inland Waterways

#INLAND WATERWAYS - The site of the former graving docks at Grand Canal Dock has been transferred to NAMA in a deal which frees the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) from a €29 million plus bank guarantee.

Plot 8 at Sir John Rogerson's Quay is one of a suite of nine sites that have been transferred to the Government's 'bad bank' in a negotiated loan settlement that extricates the Docklands body from loan guarantees given by banks that financed the "disastrous" Dublin Glass Bottle site deal in 2006.

Sites handed over in the deal include the former 'U2 Tower' and the historic BJ Marine premises on the banks of the Liffey, as well as the aforementioned Dublin Glass Bottle site.

The Dublin branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) had been hoping to embark on a restoration of the graving docks at Plot 8 to their former working order (a detailed history of the docks and restoration plans is available HERE).

This project had been given the blessing of the DDDA and Waterways Ireland, which owns the freehold lease on the site, with a view to its restoration helping to fund the Ulster Canal scheme.

However with the transfer of the DDDA's interest in the site to NAMA, the authority has now withdrawn permission for the IWAI to do any restoration work, leaving the future of the graving docks in limbo.

Published in Inland Waterways

#INLAND WATERWAYS - The Ulster Canal restoration project will be funded by Waterways Ireland alone, at least for the time being, according to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Responding in the Dáil to a written question from Cork East Sinn Féin deputy Sandra McLennan, Minister Jimmy Deenihan said that while the previous Government had committed in 2007 to covering the full capital costs of the project, estimated at €35 million, such was no longer viable in the current climate.

"Government accounting procedures do not provide, in that sense, for the ’ring-fencing’ of funds for projects of this nature," said the minister, who added that he was "advised that it was always the intention that the Ulster Canal project would be funded from the Waterways Ireland annual allocations" as well as "projected income from the commercialisation of certain Waterways Ireland assets", though he admitted this had been affected negatively by the economic downturn.

However, Minister Deenihan noted that the project - involving restoration of the canal between Clones in Co Monaghan and Upper Lough Erne - is "progressing incrementally" and that a planning application submitted in October was a "significant milestone".

He also confirmed that he intends "to continue to explore all possible options that may assist in the advancement of this project", which may involve an inter-agency group between the relevant county councils and interested bodies to examine ways of advancing the scheme.

Published in Inland Waterways
Page 2 of 2

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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