Fingal Council votes to protect Royal Canal

by Rose Barrett
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Cllr John Walsh (Labour, Dublin West) welcomed the decision by Fingal Councillors to adopt a new Local Objective which he proposed for the draft Fingal Development Plan 2023-29 to protect the Royal Canal. 

“This is a vital action to protect biodiversity, habitats and wildlife along the Royal Canal,” he said. “The Canal is not just a feat of 18th century engineering, a route for travel or an amenity to be developed – it is also a proposed Natural Heritage Area.” 

“The area along the Royal Canal is teeming with biodiversity and a vital green lung for communities across D15. We must protect the sensitive ecological landscape along the banks of the canal from large-scale or high-rise housing development,” he stressed. 

Cllr John Walsh

Cllr Walsh proposed the following motion at last week’s council meeting, a motion to adopt the new Local Objective: “Protect the Royal Canal and associated habitats along its banks as a proposed Natural Heritage Area by establishing an ecological corridor free of new housing development with a buffer consisting of a minimum width of 30 metres from the top of each bank of the canal.” 

The motion was approved by a majority of 21 councillors to 16 following a debate. 

Christine Moore of Friends of the Deep Sinking (Royal Canal) responded: “I was delighted with the outcome. It’s the first time in a decade that the protective buffer along the canal has been increased. This gives better protection to the wildlife and helps to maintain the integrity of this wonderful amenity. Thanks to Cllr Walsh for raising the motion and to all the councillors who supported it.” 

Cllr Walsh added: ‘I’m very pleased that a majority of councillors accepted the arguments in favour of protecting the canal. This motion for the first time gives a level of protection to the Royal Canal which is comparable to other major waterways such as rivers. 

“While we need new housing, it has to be appropriate to the area and we have seen a great deal of high-rise development close to the canal and rail line in recent years. The new objective gives a stronger level of protection for the Royal Canal and is crucial in preserving its natural heritage and biodiversity.” 

It was noted during the debate by the Fingal Executive that the motion referred entirely to new housing and did not impinge in any way on the Royal Canal Greenway or infrastructural work related to the DART+West plan.

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