In July 2007, the North South Ministerial Council agreed to a proposal to restore a 13km section of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne to Clones. This project is important for the border region with potential to stimulate economic activity, giving a much needed boost to job creation and with the growth in water based tourism helping to attract significant numbers of visitors to the area. This is increasingly significant in the context of Brexit.
Government approval for Phase 1 of this project, to restore a 2.5 km stretch of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne in County Fermanagh to the International Scout Centre at Castle Saunderson near Belturbet in Co. Cavan, was secured in February 2015.
In relation to Phase 1, work is nearing completion and includes dredging works to the River Finn, construction of a new navigation arch at Derrykerrib Bridge and installation of a new mooring facility at Castlesaunderson.
Funding of €260,000 has been allocated towards the restoration of the Ulster Canal in 2019.
Waterways Ireland anticipates expenditure of €160,000 to complete payment for works at Derrykerrib and €100,000 for construction works for Castlesaunderson public moorings.
The expenditure to date, including commitments amounts to €3,960,000 which is fully funded by my Department.
Waterways Ireland is also working with Cavan County Council in relation to the development of recreational amenities at Castlesaunderson, including a new moorings facility. The contract for this project has been awarded with completion of the works expected in October 2019.
In relation to the Ulster Canal Phase II, Restoration of Ulster Canal Lough Erne to Clones – The Clones Terminus Project is under development with an anticipated cost of €433,000 of which 75% is funded from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, with 25% funded by my Department.
This project is currently in preparation for planning if required, with a tender under assessment for a feasibility study relating to a sustainable water supply and a tender under preparation for a study relating to a master development plan for the proposed site.
Waterways Ireland is also continuing work with the partners Monaghan County Council, Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, East Border Region Ltd. and Mid Ulster District Council to develop 22km of greenway along the Ulster Canal towpath from Smithborough, Co. Monaghan to Middletown, Co. Armagh, funded through the successful application to the Interreg VA sustainable transport measure (circa €5.0m).
Design work is ongoing in preparation for planning and the group have also completed development proposals for a Greenway strategy exploring how the Ulster Canal Greenway could form the spine of a network of off road Greenways across this rural border region.