Tag Archives: Narrow Water

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.

 

SEUPBer

SEUPB, the Special European Union Programmes Body, has withdrawn its offer of funding for the Narrowwater bridge about which I wrote here and here.

Perhaps the scheme’s proponents might now consider a Newry Southern Relief Road instead. It might not be iconic, but it would be considerably more useful.

And I really don’t think it needs an opening span to cater for a couple of yachts going up the Newry Ship Canal.

It seems that the SEUPB wants to reallocate the money to a project that could be completed by December 2015. A cross-border sheugh, maybe?

No Newry is bad news

In October I wrote about a Northern Ireland Assembly debate on a proposed Newry Southern Relief Road. I said:

… the debate was remarkable for its demonstration of cross-party agreement: not so much on the desirability of public works (a desideratum of Irish politicians since the eighteenth century) as on the irrelevance of the Narrowwater bridge.

[…]

It must surely be unlikely that there will be two crossings of Carlingford or the Newry River [and canal] within a few miles of each other. But if one option, the Newry Southern Relief Road, helps to relieve Newry and Warrenpoint traffic and the other, the Narrowwater bridge, doesn’t do so, then the first option would seem to be the rational choice.

Yesterday, 12 November 2013, Martin McGuinness [SF, Mid Ulster] reported to the Northern Ireland Assembly on the recent plenary meeting of the North/South Ministerial Council. He and others expressed support for the Narrowwater project. This question is revealing:

Caitriona Ruane [SF, South Down]: Go raibh maith agat agus go raibh maith agat don LeasChéad-Aire as an ráiteas sin. I welcome the statement from the deputy First Minister. Does he agree that the Narrow Water bridge project is a very good project for everyone in the Louth/Down area, that the chambers of commerce are representing every single community — Kilkeel, Warrenpoint and Rostrevor — and that the project went through a very rigorous process in relation to the SEUPB and came out at the top of the competitive process?

She made no mention of Newry; nor did any other contributor to the debate.

 

Newry and Narrow Water

I wrote a few days ago about the proposed bridge across Carlingford Lough at Narrowwater (or Narrow Water). I was reminded of that today on reading a debate, held in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 30 September 2013, about a proposed Newry Southern Relief Road [thanks to theyworkforyou.com].

Apart from an admittedly minor mistake made by a Sinn Féin MLA about the Newry Canal (first summit-level canal, not “oldest inland waterway” in These Islands), the debate was remarkable for its demonstration of cross-party agreement: not so much on the desirability of public works (a desideratum of Irish politicians since the eighteenth century) as on the irrelevance of the Narrowwater bridge. Jim Wells [DUP] said:

There has also been some progress on the Narrow Water bridge project, although we do not know exactly where we stand. First, that bridge is far from certain, and, secondly, even if it were built, it would not relieve much of the traffic that we are dealing with. It would certainly not relieve the large number of juggernauts coming through from Warrenpoint harbour.

Sean Rogers [SDLP] said:

Narrow Water bridge is merely a tourist bridge, but the relief road would take heavy goods vehicles off the streets of Newry, reduce traffic congestion and attract even more shoppers to the city. Heavy goods vehicles would also have a direct route to Warrenpoint port, increasing trade in the port area.

And the other contributors to the debate did not mention it, which suggests to me that it is seen as irrelevant to the traffic problems of Warrenpoint and of Newry.

The Minister for Regional Development, Danny Kennedy [UUP], gave a lengthy response to the debate, including this point:

A more detailed technical investigation of the specific options for crossing the Newry canal was also recommended, given the sensitive nature of this important heritage feature. It is expected to require at least the provision of a bascule, or lifting bridge, to allow the passage of tall ships on the canal. The width of the Victoria lock already limits the size of ship that can enter the canal and it is expected that any bridge would maintain a navigation channel that matches the width of the sea lock. My Department will continue to consult with NIEA on how the impact of the proposal on the canal might be mitigated and an appropriate design developed.

And it seems that one of the areas being considered for the road is Fathom, which is where the Victoria Lock is. It is a short distance north (and upstream) of the border.

It must surely be unlikely that there will be two crossings of Carlingford or the Newry River [and canal] within a few miles of each other. But if one option, the Newry Southern Relief Road, helps to relieve Newry and Warrenpoint traffic and the other, the Narrowwater bridge, doesn’t do so, then the first option would seem to be the rational choice.

Although I wouldn’t bother providing for “tall ships”.

 

 

Hands across the water

Another bit of northsouthery seems to be crumbling around its proponents’ ears, according to a report in today’s Irish Times [which will disappear behind a paywall at some stage]. It seems that, in July, TPTB approved the spending of €18.3 million on a bridge at Narrowwater [or Narrow Water], upstream of Warrenpoint and downstream of Newry (and of Victoria Lock). However,

The leading bid has costed the bridge at over €30 million […].

I presume that inflation does not account for the 66% increase but I am surprised that the proponents’ estimate was so far off. Perhaps omitting the opening span (intended to cater for the small number of tall vessels that use the Ship Canal to visit Newry) would save a few quid.

There is a discussion of the bridge project here and some useful information here; there isn’t here, although you might expect it.

It is certainly true that anyone wanting to drive from, say, Greenore or Carlingford to, say, Kilkeel or even Warrenpoint faces a long drive around Carlingford Lough. What is not clear to me is whether very many people want to do that: I haven’t investigated the matter, so I don’t know, but the main north/south traffic passes to the west and there are crossings at Newry.

A ferry service might be cheaper; it might also allow the real strength of demand to be gauged. Ferry terminals might be constructed by the local authorities and leased to an operating company.

And the service would probably be more useful than the Clones Sheugh: I see that yet another member of Sinn Féin got to ask about that in the Dáil recently, as did a Fianna Fáil chap from the area; they elicited the standard answer. The minister may be hoping that the cost estimates for the sheugh are more robust than those for the Narrowwater bridge.

The Clones Sheugh and other northern waters

Industrial Heritage Ireland has been visiting Ulster waterways including the Blackwater, which linked the Ulster Canal to Lough Neagh.

Brian Cassells was quoted again in the Belfast Telegraph on 27 April 2013. He believes that walking in the country is a Good Thing, although it’s not clear why that requires a canal. I trust that Sammy Wilson will stand firm and refuse to spend public money on a project that has an even stronger political smell than the proposed Narrow Water Bridge.