Narrow Water Bridge gets the green light from Attwood

October 16, 2012

Environment Minister, Alex Attwood’s decision to grant planning permission for a new bridge across the Newry River at Narrow Water near Warrenpoint has been widely welcomed.

The proposed bridge is one in an ongoing series of large planning announcements being made by the Minister. The application has been made by Louth County Council and a separate application has been submitted in the Republic of Ireland.

The multi million investment will see a single carriageway cable stayed opening bridge across the Newry River tying into the existing A2 Roundabout and linking Co Down with Co Louth. The project is seeking £17.2million in funding through the Special EU Projects Body (SEUPB.)

Emphasising the benefits of the first North South bridge since partition, the Minister described the Narrow Water Bridge as “the most significant infrastructure project in the border region for many years” and said he hoped a similarly positive decision will come from planning authorities in the Republic soon in relation to the Southern end of the Narrow Water.

He added,

“The bridge is an opening bridge that enables tall ships, leisure craft and other marine vessels access to the Victoria Lock and the Albert Basin in Newry. The bridge will act as a gateway to the Mourne and Cooley Mountains for people and tourists south of the border making it much easier for visitors travelling each way. It will be a great economic boost for the area, creating construction jobs in the short term, enhance tourism and promote greater community interaction across the border.”

The news was wholeheartedly welcomed by the East Border Region (EBR), a local authority led grouping comprising ten councils, seven in Northern Ireland and three in Republic of Ireland.  The Narrow Water Bridge was first mooted at a meeting of EBR in 1976 and has been promoted by the organisation since that time.

The Chairman of the East Border Region, Cllr Jackie Crowe, expressed his delight that Minister Attwood has granted the long awaited planning permission and said he hoped that An Bord Pleanala will shortly follow suit and grant planning permission for the southern element of the project.

The Councillor also highlighted the requirement for the project to secure €17.3million from the European Union INTERREG IVA Programme in order to actually build the bridge, and, as lead partner in the funding application to SEUPB, urged them “to help realise this iconic cross border project.”

Alliance South Down spokesperson, Patrick Clarke, also commended the decision to grant planning permission and said the bridge would bring a much needed economic and tourism boost to the South Down area, creating jobs in the short term and tourism in the long term.

“The Alliance Party is dedicated to creating a future without divisions.  This move today will serve to increase greater community interaction across the border, by opening up the Mourne area to people travelling each way.”