Ulster Canal go-ahead open way to Coalisland

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The restoration of the Ulster Canal has been given the go-ahead by planners.

Last week, Environment Minister Alex Attwood announced planning permission to restore part of the historic Ulster Canal that has not been used since 1929.

The original Ulster Canal was completed in 1841 and linked the Erne System to Lough Neagh with a navigation route of 93kms. It was last used for trading boats in 1929 and officially closed two years later.

The application is to restore 14kms of the navigational route in total - 5.5kms of river navigation from Quivvy Lough to Gortnacarrow and 8.5kms of canal from Gortnacarrow to Clones.

The move brings the Coalsiland Canal one step closer to accessing some of Ireland’s most popular waterways including the River Shannon.

The move would open up Moy and Charlemeont, and the Coalisland Canal to the rest of Ireland’s inland waterways, unlocking ‘a hidden treasure’ to the boating fraternity.

The application was dealt with by the Western Area Office of the Department of Environment’s Planning and Local Government Group in Enniskillen.

This will involve construction of the existing canal route and tow paths for public access on both banks. New road bridges are to be constructed at Derrykerrib, Wattle Bridge, Gortnacarrow and Clonfad/Munilly with three farm accommodation bridges.

The Minister said, “This cross-border project will be a boost for the people of Fermanagh, Cavan and Monaghan. It will re-open a historic waterway that has not been used for over 80 years and offers huge opportunities for regeneration and leisure-related activities for the entire region.”

Four accompanying applications for Listed Building Consent to carry out works to repair and restore three listed bridges and works to the Clones Aqueduct have also been approved.

The DOE consulted Fermanagh District Council on its opinion to approve this application on 18 April 2013. Monaghan County Council and Clones Town Council have signalled that planning approval should be granted for the Southern side of the canal and Cavan County Council have already granted planning permission for their section of the canal.