Narrow Water Bridge 'a live project' says councillor
North Louth Councillor Antóin Watters has said he regards Narrow Water Bridge as still being 'very much a live project' and hopes to see it completed.
This follows a report in The Irish News that 'the project was shelved in 2013 after it emerged costs had been significantly underestimated.' Louth County Council has admitted that it spent almost €2million on advancing the project to date.
Planning permission for the works in Northern Ireland expired in October, meaning a fresh application would have to be submitted to revive the project. The lack of an Executive in Stormont is also contributing to the lack of progress being made on securing funds for the project.
The Sinn Fein councillor said 'Louth County Council have spent almost €2 million so far and given that so much has already been spent on the project and given the importance of the bridge to the tourism of the Cooley peninsula, I, and my party are calling on Louth County Council to ensure they explore every option to progress with it and not just write it off along with the €2million.'
'We had hoped to see this bridge from Omeath to Warrenpoint completed in 2015 and it would have been a tremendous boost for tourism in the area, but here we are in 2018, the project has been shelved and we are nearly €2million in the red and a shovel hasn't even turned the first sod.'
'I welcome that adequate work has been carried out to extend planning permission. I have been working on this project since my co-option onto Louth County Council and have lobbied the council and raised the issue at the Cross Border Memorandum of Understanding meetings with Newry Mourne & Down Councils to ensure the planning didn't lapse. I will continue to keep the Narrow Water Bridge on the agenda and push to get the project completed.'
'With Brexit looming this is a 'ready to go' project especially now there has been agreement that there will be no borders,' he continued. 'Let's waste no more time or money, to boost tourism in Cooley. Let's get the Narrow Water Bridge Project completed.
Mr Jim Boylan, chair of the Narrow Water Bridge Community Network, has been quoted as saying: 'We see the project as very much alive, especially in this time of Brexit. On the money aspect, I think it is money well spent because it's a great tourism project.'.
He said a paper is being prepared for the North South Ministerial Council, but the lack of a Stormont executive is stalling progress on the project.
'The only thing that's holding it up is that there is no executive in the north, but as soon as that executive is up that paper will go to the North South Ministerial Council, and we expect a positive outcome to that,' he said.