Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Ulster Canal Restoration Project
66. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the capital funding allocated for the restoration of the Ulster Canal in 2019; the expenditure to date; the works undertaken; the expected expenditure by year end; the funding proposed for further development in 2020; the restoration works that will be undertaken; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45438/19]
In July 2007, the North South Ministerial Council agreed to a proposal to restore a 13km section of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne to Clones. This project is important for the border region with potential to stimulate economic activity, giving a much needed boost to job creation and with the growth in water based tourism helping to attract significant numbers of visitors to the area.
Government approval for Phase 1 of this project, to restore a 2.5 km stretch of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne in County Fermanagh to the International Scout Centre at Castle Saunderson near Belturbet in Co. Cavan, was secured in February 2015.
Work on Phase 1 is nearing completion and includes dredging works to the River Finn, construction of a new navigation arch at Derrykerrib Bridge and installation of a new mooring facility at Castlesaunderson.
Waterways Ireland anticipates expenditure in 2019 of €53,500 to complete payment for works at Derrykerrib and €100,000 for construction works for Castlesaunderson public moorings.
The expenditure to date, including commitments amounts to €3,960,000 which is fully funded by my Department.
Waterways Ireland has worked with Cavan County Council in relation to recreational amenities at the Council site at Castlesaunderson, including a public jetty. A contract for the construction of this new floating jetty was substantially completed in October 2019. The jetty will be operational for the 2020 boating season. This capital investment in navigational infrastructure will create a welcome new destination for waterway users of both the Erne System and the Shannon – Erne Waterway. It is expected to bring a new awareness, interest and additional visitors to the river and to the border area around Castlesaunderson.
In relation to the Ulster Canal Phase 2 - Restoration of Ulster Canal Lough Erne to Clones – The Clones Terminus Project is under development with anticipated cost of €433,000 of which 75% is funded from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, with 25% funded by my Department. Currently Waterways Ireland is in preparation for planning, if required, with a tender process completed for a feasibility study relating to a sustainable water supply. In addition Waterways Ireland, supported by Monaghan County Council, is preparing a tender for identification of optimum methods of delivering recreational and broader benefits from the proposed investment in the canal in Clones. It is currently planned to spend this funding during 2019 and 2020.
Waterways Ireland is also continuing work with the partners Monaghan County Council, Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, East Border Region Ltd. and Mid Ulster District Council to develop 22km of greenway along the Ulster Canal towpath from Smithborough, Co. Monaghan and Middletown, Co. Armagh, funded through the successful application to the Interreg VA sustainable transport measure (circa €5.0m). An Integrated Consultant Team was appointed in June 2019 and work is progressing on preparation for planning.
Public consultation events were held in three locations in August and September 2019. Waterways Ireland and partners have also produced an Ulster Canal Greenway strategy which sets out how this greenway could become the spine of a robust network of off-road greenways across this rural border region.