Royal Canal: Dublin City Council seeks to narrow segments

Narrowing of waterway to facilitate bikes and vehicles used for maintenance or by residents

Firemen  rescue mallard chicks from the lock of the Royal Canal at Cross Guns Bridge. Permission is being sought  to narrow the canal at three stretches between the bridge and Ashtown village in Dublin’s north inner city. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

Firemen rescue mallard chicks from the lock of the Royal Canal at Cross Guns Bridge. Permission is being sought to narrow the canal at three stretches between the bridge and Ashtown village in Dublin’s north inner city. File photograph: Cyril Byrne

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Dublin City Council is seeking planning permission to narrow the Royal Canal at three stretches between Cross Guns Bridge and Ashtown village in Dublin’s north inner city.

The council wants to facilitate the Royal Canal Greenway, to assist access for residents’ vehicles and improve access for maintenance vehicles .

The area includes some of the oldest stretches of the canal with construction work having commenced in May 1790 at Cross Guns Bridge, heading west via Ashtown, ultimately to the Shannon just west of Longford town.

A plaque beneath the keystone of Ranelagh Bridge at Castleknock commemorates the start of the work.

In 2015, the city council began extending a walking and cycling route along the Royal Canal from Ashtown to Sheriff Street Upper.

The new application is to “widen the existing towpath” which is to be “achieved by narrowing the canal channel along three sections of the route”. The three sections are:west of Lock 6 over a distance of 600m; west of Broombridge over 345m and west of Lock 8 over 85m.

Ecological corridor

The council said the aim was “to provide a premium quality cycle and pedestrian route to facilitate and encourage cycling and walking” while maintaining the canal as an ecological corridor and improving vehicular access for residents and maintenance vehicles.

The development is to be undertaken by the council using part 8 of the Planning and Development Act which allows no appeal process to An Bord Pleanála.

The canal is a natural heritage area and the council’s development plan 2016 - 2022 designates it as a conservation area.

Waterways Ireland, which manages the canal, said what it described as “widening into the canal” – meaning that the path would be widened and the waterway narrowed – has taken place at other locations across the canal network to facilitate the construction of cycle paths. It added that it “supports both navigation and cycle amenity uses of the canal corridor”.

Dredging

Waterways Ireland said “the proposed slight widening will be accompanied by both dredging and lining of the canal bed” and would “use a profile that limits potential loss of navigation capacity, while also ensuring that any ecological impacts are minimised”.

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, which was founded in the 1950s following plans to fill in the Grand Canal on Dublin’s southside, said it was “concerned” by the application. A spokesman said any incursion into Dublin’s canals was a cause of concern and the plans would be studied in detail by local branches and a submission would be made.

The plans are available online and public consultation is open until October 28th.