Sometimes an idea comes along that is just so good, so right, so advantageous on all counts that it is simply irresistible. This idea comes from the Americas, from the US Coast Guard. Adapted to the Irish inland waterways, and specifically to the Shannon, it could:
- help to promote industry in recession-hit rural areas
- create direct employment
- help to stimulate indirect employment
- promote Irish energy independence by reducing reliance on imported hydrocarbons
- counter pollution of water-courses
- reduce the number of heavy trucks using remote rural roads
- use environmentally-friendly water transport, by barge along the Shannon
- honour and promote the industrial heritage of Co Leitrim and the transport heritage of the Shannon
- help to defray the costs of maintaining the Shannon Navigation
- solve Dublin’s water supply problem, at least for non-potable water.
How could anybody resist?
The US Coast Guard has proposed that wastewater from fracking [PDF] should be transported by barge, rather than by truck or railway train, from the fracking sites to remote storage or treatment facilities. So, when fracking begins around Lough Allen, the wastewater could be carried down the Shannon by barge and, if necessary, pumped to Dublin.
It sounds like a winner to me.
Posted in Ashore, Drainage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Foreign parts, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish inland waterways vessels, Natural heritage, Non-waterway, Operations, Politics, Rail, Restoration and rebuilding, Scenery, Shannon, Sources, Steamers, The turf trade, waterways, Waterways management
Tagged barge, boats, bridge, canal, Dublin, flow, fracking, Grand Canal, hydrocarbons, Ireland, Leitrim, Lough Allen, Operations, Shannon, turf, US Coast Guard, vessels, wastewater, water supply, waterways, Waterways Ireland, workboat
This morning, on the wireless, I heard two people opposing the use of fracking to find gas around Lough Allen in Co Leitrim. Neither of them was convincing. One started by objecting to big multinationals being given licences to investigate the resources available; it is not clear that there was any ban on small native companies or workers’ cooperatives (or soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers) applying for licences, and presumably they could use traditional Irish implements like sleans if they wanted to.
The general line of argument adopted by the objectors was that anything that could go wrong would go wrong, probably all at the same time, wiping out the whole of Irish agriculture (some of which is not in Leitrim) and, er, eco-tourism. There would, the objectors seemed to suggest, be no preventive or mitigating measures and no insurance and the full cost of every accident would be borne by the residents of the area.
Remains of a pier at the brickworks, Spencer Harbour, Lough Allen
But the bit that really annoyed me was the depiction of the area as one of rural seclusion. Yet Lough Allen had canals, railways, coal mines, dams, iron works and brick works.
Spencer Harbour on Lough Allen
The very canal linking Lough Allen to the
rest of the Shannon Navigation owes its very existence to the desire
to carry coal from around Lough Allen to Dublin. And one of the most best tourism initiatives in the area, the Arigna Mining Experience, recognises that heritage.
Part of a brick
Insist on proper assessment and management of risk by all means, but don’t exaggerate it — and don’t ignore Leitrim’s industrial heritage.
Posted in Ashore, Built heritage, Economic activities, Engineering and construction, Extant waterways, Industrial heritage, Ireland, Irish waterways general, Natural heritage, Non-waterway, Operations, People, Politics, Rail, Scenery, Shannon, The turf trade, Tourism, Water sports activities, waterways, Waterways management, Weather
Tagged Arigna, boats, bricks, canal, Clare, coal, dam, ESB, fracking, gas, industry, Ireland, iron, jetties, lock, Lough Allen, Operations, Shannon, Spencer Harbour, vessels, waterways, workboat