Waterways Ireland is to submit planning applications to Carlow, Kildare, and Laois county councils for a five-year schedule of routine and essential maintenance works along the Barrow Navigation.
Planning applications are being submitted to each local authority for maintenance works including dredging, trackway maintenance, small-scale bank repair and bank strengthening.
Until recently, these works would have been undertaken on the Barrow Navigation by Waterways Ireland and its predecessor authorities without planning permission being required. Due to recent changes in environmental case law, certain aspects of these routine maintenance works now require consent from the relevant planning authority. This five-year maintenance programme on the Barrow Navigation contains a schedule of such works, which have been subject to environmental, archaeological and flood risk assessments.
In a statement, Waterways Ireland Chief Executive, John McDonagh said: ‘The Barrow Navigation is a waterway corridor of national and international importance, with spectacular recreation and leisure amenities. It stretches to approximately 68km, commencing in Athy, Co Kildare, passing through Co Laois, and finishing in St Mullins, Co Carlow. Both the river and its link to the Grand Canal support a myriad of activities and sustain a rich and diverse built and natural heritage.
‘Being a human-built structure, this historic navigation requires periodic maintenance, similar to any other such structure. The required maintenance works, submitted into planning, will ensure the waterway is managed in a sustainable manner for continued use.’
The maintenance work planning applications are one element of a strategic approach to the Barrow Navigation, expected to result in an investment of €17.8m over a 10-year period. The second element of the strategic approach to the Barrow Navigation involves infrastructure investment. Focusing on weirs, bridges, locks, quay walls, slipways and buildings, it will ensure that the heritage assets under Waterways Ireland’s custodianship are protected and maintained.
The third element of the strategic approach to the Barrow Navigation is working with partners to develop a tourism masterplan for the river, enabling it to become a key tourism destination for the region.
Mr McDonagh added: ‘We are delighted to now commence our journey for the Barrow Navigation Maintenance Programme with the submission of planning permission applications in the immediate future. In conjunction with the strategic infrastructure investment and the development of a tourism masterplan, this represents a significant financial investment in the navigation and the wider region. We look forward to working with local and national partners and the communities in Kildare, Laois, Kilkenny and Carlow for whom the Barrow Navigation is a key part of their lives to bring this exciting plan to fruition over the coming years.’
Further details on Waterways Ireland website.