SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has hailed the Minister for Environment’s decision to approve the planning application for the symbolic Narrow Water Bridge… the first bridge linking the north and south of this island of Ireland.
Speaking following the announcement, Ms Ritchie, a long-time campaigner for the bridge, said: “The decision by the Minister for the Environment to approve the planning application for the Narrow Water bridge is not only welcome, but a great day for the people of South Down.
“Many people in the local community in Warrenpoint and in Cooley in County Louth who have worked on this project for years have yearned for this day to come. Today’s decision is testimony to their dedication, resilience, belief and hard work.
“Only last week, I brought the Minister for the Environment, Alex Attwood to the site at Narrow Water Keep where he was able to see the environmental and economic advantages of the project.
“Yesterday, I arranged a meeting for Warrenpoint Chamber of Commerce with the Minister where they outlined the economic, job creation, tourism, social and political advantages of the project.
“The granting of planning permission will now allow the bridge project to go forward as a very strong contender for European funding from the Special European Union Programmes Body.
“This is a wonderful decision which marks another step in the development of this symbolic project linking the north and south of this island through a bridge infrastructure project across Carlingford Lough.
“I look forward to now pursuing the funding approval for the bridge project; the commencement of construction work and completion of what will be a momentous tourism and economic catalyst for South Down area.
“The Narrow Water Bridge project will capture the heritage and special landscape potential for the Mournes, and should bring more visitors to this area.
“The completion of the bridge will bring two communities closer together and will assist in the forging of new relationships and above all provide opportunities for job creation in construction and on completion.
“I also hope that the planning authority in the South of Ireland will now be able to give the green light as well on this important North/South project.
“Now we all must move forward working in partnership with the community in Warrenpoint and Cooley, the Northern Ireland Executive and Irish Government, as we look forward to the completion of the bridge at Narrow Water.
“I want to thank the Minister for the Environment, Alex Attwood and his officials who have worked tirelessly on this planning application to approval stage, and for listening attentively to all the positive representations made on behalf of the project”.