Lough Derg Canoe Trail

Natura Impact Statement

Combined Map

Individual Maps

Barrow Blueway, Counties Kildare, Laois and Carlow

Natura Impact Statement

Environmental Impact Statement
Proposed Barrow Blueway Co. Kildare, Laois & Carlow
Volume 1: Non-Technical Summary & Environmental Impact

Environmental Impact Statement


Chapter 2: Background

Chapter 3 Project Description

Chapter 4: Human Beings

Chapter 5: Biodiversity

Chapter 6: Soil

Chapter 7: Air, Climate, Noise

Chapter 8: Landscape

Chapter 9: Cultural Heritage

Chapter 10: Material Assets

Chapter 11:


Barrow Reports

Barrow Product Development Study

Barrow Line Ecological Survey

Barrow Navigation Ecological Survey

Market Research on the Barrow​​

Ardreigh & Bestfield Overflow Weirs: Site Investigation Works River Barrow Navigation

Screening to Inform Appropriate Assessment

This Screening report to inform the Appropriate Assessment (AA) process has been prepared by Waterways Ireland (WI) to inform the Appropriate Assessment (AA) process with regard to the proposed site investigation works at two locations on the River Barrow Navigation within Counties Carlow and Kildare. The proposed works will take place at Bestfield Weir, an overflow weir directly upstream of Bestfield Lock, due north of Carlow town, and at a second location downstream of Ardreigh weir, due south of Athy town, Co. Kildare.

Waterways Ireland: Water Abstraction and related powers (under 1986 Canals Act)

The most recent legislative basis for the navigation’s water supply is the 1986 Canals Act, of particular reference is Section 6 set out below.

Powers of Commissioners

6 – The Commissioners shall have all powers as are necessary for the performance of their functions under this Act and shall without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, have power to undertake the care, management, control maintenance, repair, improvement and development of the canals and other canal property and to –

(a) Draw any water necessary for the purposes of the canals from any source whatsoever from which the Board was entitled to draw such water before the vesting day, whether by virtue of any enactment or otherwise;

(a) Dredge, widen, deepen, alter the course of or otherwise improve the canals or improve the supply of water for the canals and for that purpose to dredge, widen or deepen any stream, river, drain or channel carrying any such water supply and replace or repair any pipe carrying any such supply;

(b) Construct, alter, underpin or improve any lock, quay, harbour, drydock, weir, fishpass, slipway, pumping station, building, towpath, bridge, aqueduct, embankment, culvert or road (other than a public road within the meaning of Local Government (Roads and Motorways) Act, 1974) on, over or beside the canals;

(c) Acquire and dispose of any land or any easement or other right over land and may, if necessary, in accordance with the Second Schedule. Acquire compulsorily any land or any easement or other right over land;

(d) Alter the water levels of the canals without prejudice to the right of the Board or any other person to receive water from the canals;

(e) Close to navigation any part of a canal not required for navigation and reopen and declare navigable any part of a canal previously closed to navigation

(f) Lease or let to any person canal property and license the use of the canals and canal water by any person.


Given the historic nature of Waterways Ireland’s water supplies for navigation, these (water abstractions) are not mapped nor are the volumes recorded. The volume of water required varies by season by availability of water in a supply, demand depends on volume of traffic, weather, etc.

Waterways Ireland: Approvals for Water Abstraction from Canals

​​​​​​Anyone wishing to abstract water from a navigation requires approval from Waterways Ireland.

Due to restrictions on the availability of water for the canals Waterways Ireland in principal does not favour new water abstractions from the Royal Canal, Grand Canal or the Barrow line of the Grand Canal.

Permission when granted is normally by way of a licence with an annual charge based on the amount of water abstracted.


AIE: list of current water abstractions licensed by Waterways Ireland, with :

  • Licensee
  • Location of abstraction
  • Brief description of abstraction including specific details regarding the intended use and proposed amount to be abstracted
  • Details of any environment or heritage impact studies for the abstractions including appropriate information on the nature of the proposed facility, the physical and chemical characteristics of the proposed discharge, if any, and a hydrological assessment of the potential impacts of the abstraction on the hydrology of the watercourse, particularly during low flows
  • If applicable, the detail, location and nature of any pollution prevention measures related to the abstraction

Greener Waterway Infrastructure (Green WIN)

Greener Waterway Infrastructure (Green WIN) is an Interreg North West Europe (NWE) funded project, running from November 2018 to Dec 2022.

It tackles the excess energy use and high carbon emissions Waterway Management Organisations (WMO’s) cause when pumping water around the region’s rivers and canals.

The project partnership is made up of WMO’s, Universities, Public Service Organisations and Inland Waterways experts from across NWE

Partners carry out laboratory trials to check how well current pumping technologies, systems and processes are performing and to see if we can adapt these to optimise performance, use less energy and produce fewer emissions.

This research stage is followed by live testing of the strongest solutions developed, at 11 pilot sites across the UK, Ireland and France to check how they work in real operational conditions.


Waterways Ireland: Shannon Maintenance Programme

In 2019 annual report the CEO notes that the work on the formulation of a strategic maintenance programme along the Shannon in partnership with OPW is well-advanced

Pre AIE: request copy of Waterways Ireland Shannon maintenance programme and all related environmental reports

Waterways Ireland has continued to take an active and supportive role in the Shannon Flood Risk State Agencies Co-ordination Group, by undertaking a series of targeted measures on behalf and in partnership with the Office of Public Works and ESB. The pilot trial to lower the water level in Lough Allen was progressed throughout 2019 for the third year, with tree cutting, silt and reed bed removal at other key locations. A longer-term strategic maintenance programme for the Shannon in partnership with the Office of Public Works is nearing completion.

Sample pumping locations: systems at Longwood, Abbeyshrule, the Downs and Thomastown

Waterways Ireland: Water Management / Pumping Strategy

In 2019 annual report the CEO notes the “Preparation of a water management strategy was informed by anticipated changes in proposed new Water Abstraction legislation”

Pre AIE: request copy of Waterways Ireland water management strategy, including any submissions related to water abstraction and/or pumping stations


Waterways Ireland manages assets which were valued at almost €1 billion. This valuation represents the cost of rebuilding the infrastructure which passes through high value habitats and contributes in many ways to their physical surroundings, water management, local communities and the national economy.

The inland waterways support ecological biodiversity. 80% of its landholdings are within a European designated site and the green infrastructure of the waterways provide vital ecosystem services.

The Body continues to work closely with Irish Water and Westmeath County Council regarding water pumping for the Royal Canal. Lough Owel, the primary water source for the Royal Canal, is also a source for mains drinking water and the bodies work together to balance all of the interests.

The Body responded to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government regarding proposed water abstraction licensing which as proposed at consultation could jeopardise traditional water supplies for the inland waterways network. (2018 Annual Report)

Work with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to secure existing navigation water supplies in light of new Abstractions Legislation being proposed. Waterways Ireland continued to engage with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government on the Water Abstraction Bill for the protection and fulfilment of the statutory undertaking for which Waterways Ireland was established under the British Irish Agreement Act, 1999. It is essential that the proposed Water Extraction Bill give special recognition to Waterway Irelands position given our organisations remit and range of activities. (2019 Annual Report)

Pump locations (not comprehensive list)

Richmond Harbour on the Royal Canal has a pump delivering 225 l/s from the Cramlin River

The Grand Canal is supplied with water from the River Brosna into Shannon Harbour over locks 35-36

Pump delivers water from Lough Allen across Drumshanbo and Drumleague Locks to maintain water levels for navigation on the Lough Allen canal

Pumping station at locks 16-18 on the Grand Canal