Cllr Declan Breathnach, Cathaoirleach, Louth County Council has welcomed the decision of Mr. Danny Kennedy MLA, Minister for Regional Development (Northern Ireland) to proceed with a Bridge Order for the Narrow Water Bridge connecting counties Louth and Down.
Cllr Breathnach said the decision by Minister Kennedy means that the bridge has cleared a further important milestone. “While we had the announcement earlier this week that the bridge project was ‘on hold’ given the shortfall between the available funds and the prices quoted during the tendering process, it is still important that we continue the statutory approval process and the Narrow Water Bridge Order (Northern Ireland) 2013 and Newry River (Diversion of Navigable Watercourse and Extinguishment of Public Rights of Navigation) Order (NI) 2013 are both vital in this regard.
“The fact that Mr Kennedy is proceeding in this way without the need for a time-consuming and expensive public inquiry is also to be welcomed.”
The Council Cathaoirleach said the onus is now on public representatives and officials to examine every possible avenue to allow the bridge to proceed. “Having navigated the complex approval process in both the Republic and Northern Ireland and won the support of key stakeholders who recognise its huge social and economic potential, it is vital that we now spare no effort to keep this project alive and use all of our creativity and energy to find a solution to the funding issue.
“There is a very robust and carefully thought out rationale for this project and the case for proceeding is arguably stronger in the present economic environment when the positive spin-offs from it would be all the more welcome. To me, this is one of the main missing pieces of the jigsaw that can unlock this entire region’s potential and connect people and places as never before. None of us can be blind to the economic realities of today but we can’t have a recession in our ambition and vision as well.”
The single-carriageway, 195 metres cable-stayed Narrow Water Bridge is designed to connect Cornamucklagh near Omeath, Co Louth with Narrow Water near Warrenpoint, Co Down and the total length of the proposed scheme is 620m.