31st January 2014
Re: Public Consultation – Draft Canals Act, 1986 (Amendment) Bye-Laws 2014
To whom it may concern
I wish to raise my concerns with regard to the proposed Bye-Laws to the Canals Act 1986. As a public representative, from a County which takes great pride in our network of canal waterways, I have a personal interest in the future of our canals.
There is a lot of discontent within the local area about the proposed changes, in particular with the increase in fees. It is clear that the exorbitant jump in prices will greatly affect users of the canals and have a devastating effect on residents of house boats. In this regard, I would be specifically interested to learn why no details have been provided as to how these new fees will directly increase the level of services provided by Waterways Ireland, in terms of management, maintenance and repair, and how they intend to increase their monitoring of the use of canals going forward. Such details would justify the significant rise in fees.
I personally believe that these proposed changes to the Bye-Laws will have a significant negative impact on the tourism industry on our canals. The increase in fees will undoubtedly see fewer people using our canals, both in terms of those who presently use them on a regular basis or casual visitors. Rather than encouraging greater use of canals, these prices will be seen as prohibitive. This will also have a negative knock on effect on the local waterside communities who will be directly impacted by a decrease in boats mooring in their vicinity. A number of local development plans have specifically targeted canals as a source of tourism and the proposed Bye-Laws appear to be counter-productive to such plans. Despite emphasis being placed, in recent years, on the Irish tourism industry to aid in getting Ireland out of recessionary times, the proposed Bye-Laws appear to be contrary to general policy.
Having spoken to a number of groups and individuals who use and live on the canals they seem to be very aggrieved that they were not consulted prior to the Draft Bye-Laws being published. I am therefore grateful that this consultation period is taking place and I am hopeful that you will take on board the suggestions being submitted.
Anthony Lawlor TD