Ulster Canal cost update, updated

Updated 1500 hrs 16 December 2011

Waterways Ireland tells me today that the latest estimate of the costs of building a canal to Clones is €38 million plus VAT. I asked for more details:

Can you give me a breakdown please? How much is land acquisition, how much the channel itself, how much building locks, how much on bridges or whatever?

And what VAT rate applies?

WI responded:

This information is commercial-in-confidence. For competition reasons prior to tendering we are unable to provide a breakdown.

As “prior to tendering” covers the period between now and the end of the world, I said:

Tendering? You mean WI can afford to hire contractors? I would be grateful if you could tell me the source of your finding and the expected dates of its arrival.

WI was unable to comment ….



5 responses to “Ulster Canal cost update, updated

  1. So…despite the cost of building supplies, labour and land/property having dropped significantly over the last 3 years, the cost of this project has risen by 8.5%……??


  2. Although the €35m figure was widely quoted, it was not (as far as I could see) based on any actual assessment of the work required on the site. On my page about Ulster Canal costs, I wrote:

    If I have understood this account correctly, it seems that the last ab initio assessment of costs was in the work done by ESB International and Ferguson McIlveen for Waterways Ireland in 2000–2001. But that was described as an updating exercise, so it in turn may have been derived from work done on the feasibility study of 1997–1998. Accordingly, it seems that the figures shown may be based on adjusted figures based on costings that are at least ten years old.

    In other words, as I have maintained for some time, the €35 million figure was not reliable. Furthermore, you underestimate the extent of the rise, because the €35 million figure was given as a gross figure, with no mention of VAT having to be added. My fellow-sceptic at Industrial Heritage Ireland reckons that €38 million + VAT = €45 million, 29% more than the €35 million quoted.

    However, one small consolation for the Clones supporters is that the cost of land acquisition might constitute a relatively small proportion of the total costs (again, see my Ulster Canal costs). Waterways Ireland might therefore be encouraged to acquire the land and to develop a towpath walk: a relatively low-cost approach that would provide Clones with a tourist attraction within the foreseeable future. If WI instead spends a small amount (a couple of million) every year on developing a navigation, there will be no benefit to Clones until the waterway is completed, which won’t be for many years — and may never happen. bjg

  3. I missed the VAT bit right enough Brian. Were WI to acquire the land required, it might also provide an incentive for the good people of Clones to get out their shovels and chainsaws and do a bit of the work themselves.


  4. Pingback: The DAHG view of waterways | Irish waterways history

  5. Pingback: The NI Assembly discusses waterways | Irish waterways history

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