AN abandoned steel barge which had been part of a marine survey project up to ten years ago has been dismantled and removed from a local beauty spot at Greencastle, County Down.
The barge was brought to the attention of several organisations including Warrenpoint Port and The Carlingford Lough Commission (CLC) by local Councillor Sean Doran, to see if anything could be done.
There were a number of concerns about its location including that it blocked farmers entry to their land and that it could cut loose from its moorings and cause a shipping hazard in the Lough.
The biggest concern, however, was that the barge changed its position every high tide and was destroying the area and impacting on the natural habitat of small sea creatures. People had also been spotted diving off it over the summer, putting themselves at risk of serious injury.
Several concerned organisations came together to identify the ownership and seek to have the barge removed. Over a period of several months’ negotiations led by Warrenpoint Port were undertaken when the actual ownership could not be established. Eventually it was agreed that in the local interest, the various bodies would contribute into a fund to pay for it to be dismantled.
David Holmes, CEO Warrenpoint Port said, “We were delighted to help bring this abandoned barge issue to a resolution. This was brought to our attention last year by Cllr Doran and we were surprised it had been abandoned there for so long. While it does not fall directly under our remit, we have a responsibility as a conservator of the Lough. Our team secured it in the short term, but we were concerned about the potential long term ecological damage and potential safety risk. We worked together with CLC and Greenore Port to secure a contractor who could safely dismantle the barge in a way which would not impact on the local environment.
“The work took approximately ten days with supervision to ensure that there was no environmental damage. Equipment was kept at hand in case of any pollution risk. The barge however, was dismantled without incident.
“We would like to thank all those involved in bringing this to a safe and hazard free conclusion. It shows the value of local people and organisations working together to protect our area, our businesses, and our people.”
Roy Teggarty, Chairman CLC added, “CLC is delighted to be involved in the removal of this barge and provided the space to allow this to happen.”