Renewed fears for Narrow Water Bridge as planning permission for project is set to expire

Renewed fears for Narrow Water Bridge as planning permission for project is set to expire

Renewed fears have been expressed for the future of the proposed Narrow Water Bridge, with planning permission for the project due to expire in three months time.

The 195m long bridge, which was due to connect Omeath and Warrenpoint at an historic crossing point, was due to proceed four years ago but was shelved by Louth County Council in July 2013 when tenders for its construction came in at way above the expected levels.

The local authority had spent €1.95 million on the Narrow Water Bridge project before EU funding of €17.4 million was withdrawn by the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) in November 2013.

Despite this appearing to have dealt a fatal blow to the project, Louth County Council always insisted it was “shovel ready” with politicians on either side of the border pushing in the intervening years to get it back on the agenda.

Those slim hopes will surely be hit further if planning permission for the bridge expires this October.

In an interview with The Irish Times at the weekend, chief executive of the East Border Region economic development organisation Pamela Arthurs said funding was needed to ensure the bridge came to fruition.

“The bridge can still be done if there is money but the planning permission is running out in October of this year,” she said.

“Louth (County Council) have permission for the scheme and are trying to get that extended but there is no money on the table so really I suppose if we now had an Executive with this additional money, it might be that there could be money leveraged.”

The DUP secured £1 billion extra funding for Northern Ireland as part of their deal to support the Conservatives in Westminster but no indication has yet been given as to how this funding will be spent.

Ms Arthurs added that the bridge, which would have been 620 metres long, was “pivotal in this area for economic development and tourism.”

She added: “There is a lot of support here and because we have come so close to it a few years ago, it would be really disappointing for us to lose planning permission and for it not to happen.”

Earlier this month Louth TD Declan Breathnach expressed fears that the lack of an Executive in Northern Ireland could hurt the chances of getting the “once-in-a-decade” project over the line.

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