Category Archives: Modern matters

Big it up for Banagher

Banagher: the old canal (OSI 6″ map ~1830s)

I was in Banagher yesterday, visiting the site of the old (pre-Shannon Commissioners) canal on the north (virtual west) bank. The area is a park operated by a community group [I would welcome details and a link] and includes a pitch-and-putt course, an outdoor swimming pool in the river and storage for canoes (a group of young people was about to get afloat as I left).

It is also, as the map above shows, rich in waterways and military artefacts. Much of the waterways material can still be seen and a series of signs shows old drawings and provides useful information (though the lock, surprisingly, has no sign). I think I am right in deducing that the signs reflect the work of historian James Scully, one of those who gave an extremely enlightening and entertaining talk about Banagher Bridge a few years ago.

The park is well used by local people but it should also attract many tourists to take the short walk from their boats on the far side of the bridge. It is an excellent example of local initiative drawing on local expertise to illuminate local history and create a sense of place and it could be emulated at many other waterways sites along the Shannon.

Furthermore, added to Banagher’s other historic and literary associations, it shows the wealth of interesting material offered in this town. It is not, unfortunately, on the main tourist routes by road, but it should be possible to attract the interest (and the spending) of water-borne visitors.

I hope that will work for the community; in the meantime, I applaud their initiative.

 

Leave no trace? It’s rubbish

More folk believe that the Shannon is the great dividing line in Ireland: civilisation and a modern economy to the east, primitive tribalism to the west. Of course that isn’t true — except in one respect: rubbish bins on the lower Shannon.

There, counties Offaly and Tipperary, on the east side, provide rubbish bins for boaters at harbours; on the west side, counties Clare and Galway do not, save for a dog-poo bin at Portumna Castle Harbour.

Waterways Ireland has signs in some places saying that it has a “Leave no trace” policy: that is, I presume, intended to excuse it from providing bins, and paying for rubbish collection, at its own harbours. I guess — I am open to correction on this — that the local authorities on the civilised side of the Shannon are happy to bear the cost of providing for boaters, while those on the wilder side are not. It’s not just boaters, though: the new camper-van park at Portumna Castle Harbour, admirable in so many ways, has no bin service.

Now, having to take your rubbish home after a one-day picnic is not a particularly great problem. Doing so after a full week on a boat or in a camper is rather more difficult, especially if your rubbish includes the dog-poo that you have nobly and civil-spiritedly picked up. [Incidentally, I felt like an idiot in Ballinasloe, picking up a small dog-poo beside a vast pile of steaming horse-shit.]

Those boaters and camper-vanners who have cracked the code — worked out the distribution of bins — can of course hold on to their rubbish until they reach civilisation, but I met several folk (natives and visitors) who hadn’t worked it out. I didn’t meet anyone who thought the absence of bins was a good idea. And most people don’t have space on board their boats or vans for a week’s or two weeks’ worth of rubbish, never mind airtight storage to keep smells in and flies and rodents out.

The western local authorities are free-riding on the ratepayers of the eastern counties, and at some point the easterners may get fed up. A bank holiday weekend produced overflowing bins at Banagher: they were emptied very promptly on the Tuesday morning, so well done Offaly County Council. But I suspect that some of the rubbish should have been disposed of west of the Shannon. At what point will the eastern local authorities cry “enough!”?

Rational economic man, faced with the absence of bins at harbours in Clare and Galway, would adopt a simple solution: if on a boat, put everything into a bag with a large stone and throw it overboard in the middle of the river; if in a camper, sling it into a ditch somewhere. The policy of the western local authorities is designed to encourage littering.

And there’s no point in telling me about Leave No Trace Ireland, which strikes me as yet another Irish solution to an Irish problem:

Leave No Trace is an outdoor ethics programme designed to promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships.

Who thinks up this rubbish? There are many responsible boat- and camper-users who want to be able to dispose of their rubbish properly during their holidays. We need bins, not propaganda.

 

Brexit and imported boats

Several people in Ireland have imported secondhand boats from Foreign Parts, often from the Netherlands or the United Kingdom. After Brexit, importation of a boat from the UK is likely to become more difficult.

Dr Richard North, an erudite Brexiteer, has highlighted the problem today. Within the European Economic Area (which includes the European Union)

Basically, a huge range of products, before they can be placed on the market, must be approved in a manner specified in the relevant legislation. Conformity then guarantees access to the markets of the EEA members (EU members plus the three Efta/EEA members). […]

In the first instance – intra-Union trade – the responsibility for ensuring that products conform with the legislation rests with the manufacturers. And, where the legislation requires it (as it does with a wide range of goods), it must be tested by an independent third party, known as a “notified body”. And, with certain exceptions, that notified body must be established in the EU and be recognised the European Commission.

Currently, of course, the UK is able to benefit from the intra-Union trade rules but, on leaving the EU, it will no longer enjoy what amounts to a simplified procedure. It is then that the UK becomes a “third country” and the legal responsibilities accruing to those placing products on the market move from the manufacturers to the “importer“, defined as “any natural or legal person established within the Community who places a product from a third country on the Community market”. (For “Community” you can now read “Union”.)

When products from third counties arrive at EU Member State ports, it is then for the importer to satisfy the customs and any other authorities that the products comply with EU law, and have the necessary approvals or certification – including type-approvals from notified bodies, where necessary.

Currently, there are over 25 categories of goods to which the CE marking system applies, for which a Notified Body certificate may be required. These include: […] recreational craft […].

For the UK on and after Brexit day, this gets quite interesting. Where the product relies on certification from a UK notified body (approved prior to Brexit), that notified body will no longer be approved. Arguably (and it is arguable), the certificates (on which the importer will rely) will no longer be valid.

The requirements of the 2013 Recreational Craft Directive are set out here [PDF]. Section 3.6, on page 21, says:

The private importer is a concept that did not exist under the previous Directive and that was added to ensure that private individuals importing a boat, a personal watercraft, an engine or any other product covered by the Directive are granted the same level of protection and obligation as commercial importers. The private importer is defined as any natural or legal person established in the European Union who imports in the course of a non-commercial activity a product from a third country into the EU with the intention of putting it into service for his own use.

A private importer, who imports a product for his own use in European waters, must also ensure the craft, engine or components are compliant with the EU Directive.

Article 12 provides the detailed list of the private importer’s obligations. As a start, we recommend that private importers favour products for which the original manufacturer has fulfilled his responsibilities for the conformity of the product with the EU Directive. Not only will it save a lot of time and hassle for the private importer, it guarantees he/she will acquire a safe and compliant product, thereby ensuring a higher resale value in Europe.

In the event that the original manufacturer located outside of the EU has not fulfilled his responsibilities nor carried out the conformity assessment procedures, the private importer must ensure, before putting the product into service, i.e. using it, that:

• The product has been designed and manufactured in a way that meets the essential requirements of the EU Directive
• The following requirements for manufacturers have been carried out: the technical documentation has been drawn out and must be kept for 10 years; the product is accompanied by instructions and safety information in the owner’s manual in a language or languages which can be easily understood by consumers and other end users, as determined by the Member State concerned (i.e. the country of residence)
• The private importer must cooperate with the competent national authority and provide all information and documentation necessary to demonstrate the product’s conformity.

In case the technical documentation is not available from the manufacturer, the private importer will have to draw it up using the appropriate expertise. Annex V of the Directive provides the details of the postconstruction assessment (PCA). This module is the procedure to assess the equivalent conformity of a product for which the manufacturer has not assumed the responsibility but also in cases where the importer or the distributor places a product on the market under his name or trademark, or modifies a product already placed on the market in such a way that compliance with the Directive’s requirements may be affected. The private importer must ensure that the name and address of the notified body which has carried out the post-construction assessment (PCA) of the product is marked on the product itself.

For more information about the PCA see the “Special Cases” section.

 

The Lough Neagh sand trade

A few months ago I mentioned Paul Whittle’s history of the UK marine aggregate dredging industry, which includes a chapter on the Lough Neagh sand dredging industry.

Sand barge William James at Scotts sand quay

I did not realise at the time that the industry was the subject of legal action by Friends of the Earth. Their objections are outlined here; there are several news reports of the progress of their case, eg here and here; this is an account, from June 2017, of the appeal court case; here is the BBC report of the decision and this is FOE’s reaction, which includes this:

Yesterday the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal ruled that the Northern Ireland government acted unlawfully by not stopping dredging for sand at one of Europe’s most important wetlands.

The only legal option now open to the government is to stop the sand dredging.

Dredging has been taking place on a huge scale at Lough Neagh without planning permission and other authorisations.

Friends of the Earth brought the legal challenge over the Northern Ireland government’s failure to stop the extraction.

Up to 2 million tons of sand is suction dredged from the bed of the lough every year. This is the biggest unauthorised development in the history of Northern Ireland. Yet this vitally important wildlife site is supposed to be protected under local and international law. In fact there is no bigger unlawful mine anywhere in Europe in a Special Protection Area.

Lough Neagh is Europe’s biggest wild eel fishery […].

I suspect that the decision will increase the DUP’s enthusiasm for Brexit.

 

Eel fishing

In Foreign Parts.

h/t Tyler Cowen

Handsacrosstheborderism

I see from the blatts that there are

Fears over future of Narrow Water bridge project

and that

Planning permission for development at Carlingford Lough due to expire in October.

This is encouraging: I hope that the planning permission will be allowed to expire, unmourned by anyone, and that the project will be buried at the crossroads with a stake through its heart.

Like the Clones Sheugh, this scheme put symbolism over practicality and usefulness. It would require motorists from the south to drive to the middle of nowhere to cross the Newry River, when what is needed is an eastern bypass of Newry. Those living towards the eastern end of Carlingford Lough would be better served by a ferry, and I see that such a service is now proposed, to run between Greenore and Greencastle.

The only possible justification for the proposed bridge would be to build it without access roads, name it Garvaghy Road and allow — nay, sentence — Orange Order members to march up and down it in perpetuity.

 

A post-Brexit business opportunity

While running trip-boats has not always been the way to wealth on Irish waterways, we must always be alert to new business opportunities arising from changing circumstances. Brexit, the impending departure of HM Realm from the European Union may offer one such opportunity for a tourism-related business on the Shannon–Erne Waterway, perhaps around Aghalane.

The old bridge at Aghalane (OSI ~1840)

Here, scenic boat trips could be provided. Of course not everybody likes long boat trips, so there could be a market for short trips, perhaps from one side of the Woodford River (which here constitutes the Shannon–Erne Waterway) to the other.

The new bridge at Aghalane

Such trips could feature in package tours, including flights into Ireland, accommodation and leisure activities. But the Irish tourism board (whatever it’s called nowadays) needs to open up new markets: these tours might be attractive to our fellow-EU citizens from Eastern Europe.

There is another possibility for development here, combining economic growth with humanitarianism. Ireland could offer to open refugee camps in the area, thus sharing the burden with Calais, Greece, Italy and other places currently accommodating these unfortunates. This would not be entirely selfless: there would be a stimulus to the local economy from the construction and operation of the camps. Should demand for camps along waterways exceed supply, the re-opening of the Clones Sheugh could be considered.

I regret that the north side of the river is blank on the modern OSI map; that area is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Ardnacrusha tours

From 26 June through 1 September 2017, ESB will be providing guided tours of Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station. It’s not usually open to the public and, if you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth a visit. Go here to book.

I have some information about the site here, here and here, but you should try to see it for yourself.

Lough Corrib navigation marks

There are some interesting comments about Lough Corrib’s navigation marking system in this report [PDF] by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board.

Ferry King

According to the Heritage Boat Association, the steamer Ferry King was built in 1918 by Camper and Nicholson and operated by the Gosport and Portsea Steam Launch Association until 1955. It was then sold to the Solent Boating Company, fitted with a Gardner diesel and renamed Solent Queen. In 1985 it was sold to Waterford owners, renamed Crystal Rose and operated as a cruising bar and disco on the Barrow, Nore and Suir estuaries. Grounded and abandoned some time later, it was bought in 2005  and berthed at Ballinagoth Quay on the River Nore, where restoration work began.

Ferry King in 2009: view from the bow

Ferry King in 2009: view from the stern

Ferry King in 2009: steelwork in progress

Ferry King in 2009: portholes

Ferry King in 2009: stern

Ferry King in 2009: rear deck

On 18 April 2017, Kilkenny County Council published this notice:

Notice of Intention to Remove and Dispose of a Wreck situated at Ballinagoth Quay, Ballinagoth, County Kilkenny0

KILKENNY COUNTY COUNCIL

Section 52 Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993

NOTICE OF INTENTION TO REMOVE AND DISPOSE OF A WRECK

Re:- “The Ferry King”, situated at Ballinagoth Quay, Ballinagoth, County Kilkenny.

WHEREAS: Kilkenny County Council is the local authority for the County of Kilkenny (hereinafter called “The Council”)

AND WHEREAS: There is located at Ballinagoth Quay, Ballinagoth, County Kilkenny a vessel known as “The Ferry King” (hereinafter called “the Wreck”) which the Council is of the view constitutes a wreck for the purpose of the Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993 (hereinafter called “the Act”)

AND WHEREAS: The Council is of the opinion that the Wreck constitutes a threat of harm to the marine environment or to related interests (as defined in the Act)

NOW TAKE NOTICE that the Council, after the lapse of thirty days from the date of this Notice, intend to take, do the following:

  1. Take possession of the Wreck and remove the Wreck from Ballinagoth Quay,
  2. Sell or otherwise dispose of the Wreck,
  3. Retain out of the proceeds of sale the expenses incurred by the Council in relation to the removal of the Wreck.

Dated this 18th day of April 2017

Tim Butler
———————————————–
For and on behalf of Kilkenny County Council
County Hall,
John Street,
Kilkenny.

According to the Kilkenny People,

‘The Ferry King’ is in poor condition and has remained at the quay for more than a decade now. Local councillor Michael Doyle has raised the issue on a number of occasions, saying that the vessel had become unsightly, as well as a health and safety problem.

The article linked within that quotation did not mention either Ballinagoth or Ferry King, so it may be about a different vessel.

Update 22 June 2017

I asked Kilkenny County Council whether the vessel was actually removed 30 days after 18 April. I was told that letters have gone out today seeking tenders for its removal, so Ferry King is still there.

Update September 2017

By 8 August (see Ted’s comment below) Ferry King had been cut up and removed and

A steel structure has been placed at the river end of the inlet to prevent any other large vessel occupying the berth in which she lay.

Here are some photos courtesy of John Dimond, who owns the copyright on them [(c) John Dimond 2017].