Tag Archives: property

Waterways Ireland asset disposals

I was interested in Waterways Ireland’s programme for disposal of assets. I wrote asking for:

  • a list and details of the assets disposed of since 1 January 2010, including the amounts realised. I said that I was particularly interested in disposals of land and built assets (as opposed, say, to old machinery)
  • a list and details of the assets planned to be disposed of between the date of my enquiry and 31 December 2012
  • an account of the uses to which the funds realised have been, are being or will be put
  • a list of land and built assets being leased or rented out by Waterways Ireland.

I had mentioned some of these disposals here when the North/South Ministerial Council [NSMC] approved them, but I had no information on their value.

WI very kindly provided the information; it’s easier to deal with it in reverse order.

Land and built assets being leased or rented out

WI said:

Waterways Ireland currently leases a total of 233 properties, comprising (1) land, (2) buildings and (3) land and buildings. Of these properties, 121 are on the Grand Canal, 50 on the Royal Canal, 3 on the Barrow Navigation, 2 on the Lower Bann Navigation, 2 on the Shannon Erne Waterway and 55 on the Shannon Navigation. The compilation of the full list will take some time due to pressure of work coming up to the end of year. However, if there are specific areas, navigations or regions of particular interest, every effort will be made to provide the information as quickly as possible.

That’s quite a lot of leases, so I said that I was happy to wait.

The application of funds

WI said:

The funds raised are principally used for capital works in the relevant jurisdiction.

So if something is sold in NI, the money is used there. That is consonant with WI’s funding arrangements for capital projects (other than the Clones Sheugh). As far as I can see, all the property disposed of was in the republic.

Note that the disposals (rightly) do not go to supplement grant income for current expenditure.

Disposals 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2012

WI very kindly sent me an Excel file listing the disposals, only one of which fell into the category covered by my second question (planned to be disposed of between the date of my enquiry and 31 December 2012), so I’m dealing with both questions under one heading. WI said:

The 2010 & 2011 figures have been extracted from Waterways Ireland’s Audited Accounts and represent the Gross amount received i.e. before costs. The 2012 figures have not yet been audited.

The first point to be made is that the total value of property disposals over three years was only €529,557.19: a little over half a million euro in the context of capital expenditure for the three years of about €30,000,000: €21m in 2010 and €5m in 2011, according to WI’s annual accounts, and an amount slightly smaller than 2011’s budgeted for in 2012. So the asset disposals are not very important in WI’s overall capital spending.

disposals to public bodies

Several of the disposals were to other public bodies, allowing them (I imagine) to build bridges, lay pipes and so on. There may also (I imagine) have been disposals of small parcels of land that WI didn’t need but the other body could use. Here are the disposals that seem to fall into that category:

  • Long Lease of Property at Ballyconnell to Cavan County Council: €18,100.00
  • Long Lease of Property at Reilly’s Bridge, Dublin to Iarnrod Eireann: €23,000. This was, I think, what the NSMC called “granting of a 99 year lease to Córas Iompair Éireann for the proposed construction of a road bridge, crossing the Royal Canal at Ratoath Road, Dublin”
  • Long Lease of Property at Lesson Street, Dublin to Dublin City Council: €5,100.00. This may have been what allowed the Council to bury utility ducts under the towpath
  • Long Lease of Lands at Tullamore re: N52: €25,000.00
  • Grant of Easement at Ballygoran to Kildare County Council: €7,500. This may have been to allow Kildare County Council to run water pipes across the Royal Canal near Pike Bridge
  • Long Lease of Lands at Kilkenny re: N9/N10: €41,791.50
  • Long Lease of Lands at Fingal re: M50/N3: €48,582.62.

There was also a Grant of Right of Way at Ballyleague, Co. Roscommon (presumably at WI’s harbour on the west of the Shannon, opposite Lanesborough) for €5,000. No further information is provided but this looks like another pro forma grant of access, perhaps to the local authority. If you know more, please leave a Comment below.

Delwood

Delwood Park is in Castleknock, Dublin 15, and part of it backs on to the Royal Canal. Delwood Close is east of Delwood Park and runs towards the canal.

In 2010/11 WI sold “two parcels of land at Delwood Close, Castleknock” for €60,000 and in 2012 it sold “9 Plots to rear of Delwood Park, Castleknock” for €36,000. I don’t know who bought them so I don’t know whether the residents were extending their gardens or Iarnród Éireann wanted to build a new platform or provide a bridge over the canal from Delwood to the railway …. Local info welcome.

In the bogs

In 2010/11 WI sold property at Ferbane, Co Offaly, on the Grand Canal, for €100.00. In 2012 it sold three properties at Derrycooley, south of Pollagh, which is also on the Grand Canal, for €587.00, 750.00 and €750.00 respectively, and it expects to sell property at Pollagh for €6,750.00 before the end of 2012. That’s a total of less than €9,000.00. I don’t know what land this is, or why WI owns it, but at the prices I suspect it’s bog. Could it have been associated with Turraun?

The rest

The lowest price achieved was for “Long Lease of Property at Lough Ree”, which earned “No Premium”, which I take it means that there was no charge. I don’t know what property that was for; did WI support any charitable or similarly worthy endeavour on Lough Ree in 2012?

The highest price was €150,000.00 for “Sale of Freehold Interest of Property in Salins, Co. Kildare”. Again, I would welcome information on the property. In fact, that applies to all of these, so I won’t repeat it.

The second highest price was €87,500.00 for “Sale of Lots at Derrymullen, Robertstown, Co. Kildare”, which is where Lowtown is. And the final two were €19,046.07 for “Sale of Lands at Albert Lough [presumably that should be Lock], Drumsna” and €19,000 for “Sale of Freehold Interest in Properties at Dolphins Barn, Dublin”, which may have been land underlying the two harbours formerly to be found there.

Dolphin's Barn

Dolphin’s Barn

My OSI logo and permit number for websiteWasn’t that fun?

 

The NI Assembly discusses waterways

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure,  Carál Ní Chuilín [Sinn Féin], reported to the NI Assembly yesterday on the North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) inland waterways meeting held in Enniskillen on 14 February 2012, which I reported on here. The minister’s statement didn’t add anything to what the NSMC minutes [PDF] said, but some interesting points came up in the discussion afterwards.

Disposals

[Karen] McKevitt [SDLP, South Down]: One of the four specific recommendations considered at the meeting was a change to the legislation for the disposal of a waterway or part of a waterway by Waterways Ireland. Why does Waterways Ireland need that power? Does it have any plans to make such disposals?

Ms Ní Chuilín: We want to give Waterways Ireland the authority to dispose of small areas of land without needing approval from both Departments. That provision will be de minimis and will cover the disposal of land that is worth less than £25,000. It will also allow for good practice and good governance, and will ensure that there is a clear understanding of what Waterways Ireland can and cannot do. The creation of such a provision has been raised before and we said that we would bring it forward. Therefore, this is progress and, through it, we are providing clarity.

This is sensible: WI shouldn’t have to bother ministers about such minor disposals.

The Clones Canal

Perhaps the penny is beginning to drop. Mr McCarthy [Kieran McCarthy, Alliance Party, Strangford] said:

I thank the Minister for her statement. The Minister said that the next NSMC waterways meeting will set out “options for advancing the Ulster Canal project.” Is there any hint that that project may be curtailed or that less will be done than was formerly envisaged?

The minister’s answer:

[…] Some time ago, the Irish Government made a statement that their budget for developing some of the capital works that they had committed to was under threat. The Ulster canal was mentioned in that statement.

At previous NSMC waterways meetings, we agreed to progress that project as much as possible. One of the first stages of the programme of work was to seek leave for planning permission, and that has happened. The project will be kept under constant review at each stage, and the Ulster canal project is firmly at the top of the agenda of NSMC waterways meetings and other meetings that I have with Minister Deenihan. Any progress on that project will be reported at the next NSMC waterways meeting in June.

The minister has shifted the focus to the planning application as the mark of progress. She did not tell Mr McCarthy that there is no money in Waterways Ireland’s budget for any substantive construction work before 2014.

Tom Elliott [Ulster Unionist Party, Fermanagh and South Tyrone] asked about costings for the whole of the Ulster Canal:

[…] She mentioned the Ulster canal and, in particular, the Clones to upper Lough Erne portion of that canal. Will she give us details of the costings of the entire Ulster canal project and, in particular, the Clones to upper Lough Erne portion, for which planning permission has now been sought? Have those costings been reviewed recently?

The minister confirmed the figure of €45 million, reported here on 16 December 2011, for the Clones Canal, but note her inclusion of the word “currently”: there might be more increases before construction could begin in 2014. She provided no information about updated figures for any canal from Clones to Lough Neagh:

The 2006 business case indicated a capital cost of £171·5 million for the restoration of the entire canal. That included site navigation, an environmental impact assessment and project management and construction costs. The estimated costs to restore the Clones to upper Lough Erne section is currently €45 million. The construction costs for that section will be entirely funded by the Irish Government, and, when it is built, my Department will contribute ongoing operational costs that are estimated at £37,000 per annum.

If the same 29% increase were applied to the rest of the canal, the total cost would be £220.5 million, just under €350 million.

Tha Boord o Watterweys Airlann

The other discussion of interest was about the proposal to have a board for Waterways Ireland. Robin Swann [Ulster Unionist Party, North Antrim] asked:

Can the Minister provide clarification on the option to set up a board that comprises fewer than 12 members to present proposals for consideration at a future NSMC meeting on inland waterways? Would that not be the establishment of a further North/South quango to advise the North/South Ministerial Council? If that board is established, what would it discuss, who would decide its remit, and who would be on it?

The minister replied:

[…] In my statement, I said that proposals are being brought forward on the board. Waterways Ireland is the largest of the North/South bodies, yet it does not have a board. Bringing forward proposals for a board does not suggest that there are any issues. However, for the largest body not to have a board is not in keeping with good practice in governance. To that end, it will have a board. Proposals for it will be brought forward at the next NSMC meeting. I am happy to share the outcome of that meeting with Mr Swann, other members of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure and, indeed, other Members.

And Jim Allister [Traditional Unionist Voice, North Antrim] asked:

[…] Is that for an advisory board or a management board? Given that Waterways Ireland has been running for many years without a board, why is it now thought necessary, or is it just jobs for the boys that will add to the expense of Waterways Ireland?

The minister replied:

I am sure that the Member heard the answer that I gave to Robin Swann about setting up a board. One of the recommendations of the St Andrews review report was that a 12-person executive management board be appointed to direct Waterways Ireland’s affairs. Waterways Ireland is the biggest of the North/South bodies with no board; therefore, it is in keeping with good policy, practice and governance that options and proposals to establish a board will be brought to the next NSMC meeting.

The minister is quite right: there should be a board.