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Written Answers. - Inland Waterways Development.

Wednesday, 12 June 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 466 No. 7

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 95. Dr. O'Hanlon Information on Rory O'Hanlon Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  his policy on the development of inland waterways; the plans, if any, he has to restore the Ulster Canal to link the Erne and Lough Neagh; the feasibility studies, if any, that have been carried out; if so, the result of those studies; whether these studies have been published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12336/96]

Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins I am committed to the development of our inland [1900] waterways to the maximum extent possible. To that end I have allocated a total of £22.65 million from EU Structural Funds in 1994-99 to meet the cost of capital works for the improvement and restoration of inland waterways.

The possibility of restoring the Ulster Canal has been the subject of talks for some time now between the Waterways Service of my Department and their counterparts in Northern Ireland and the Watercourse Management Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. In 1994, a scoping study of the canal was undertaken and this identified the main engineering and other difficulties which will have to be overcome should it be decided to proceed with restoration. This was prepared for internal use and not for publication.

Consideration is now being given to undertaking a joint full scale feasibility study with the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture which would endeavour to identify solutions to the difficulties and would include also a cost benefit analysis and environmental impact assessment of the project. A brief for this study is being finalised and I expect tenders will be sought shortly from consultancies interested in undertaking it.

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