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River lagan to be dredged for first time since 1994 - Attwood

Friday, 17 September 2010

Social Development Minister Alex Attwood today announced that the River Lagan will be extensively dredged.

The £2.8m contract, awarded to local firm Graham Construction, will see dredging on the river for the first time since 1994. If it didn’t take place, then the smelly Lagan of a bygone era would return.

The project will create 28 jobs. It will start mid-September and is due to finish spring 2011.

The work involves thousands of tonnes of silt being removed by diggers and disposed off at an approved location out at sea. The river will be initially closed to navigation for safety reasons during the period of the contract. However, after consultation with river users the works will be completed on a sectional basis with the first section being handed over to river users after six weeks.

Alex Attwood said: “This is a significant boost for river users and local residents. This latest investment follows on the back of the successful refurbishment of the Lagan Weir and represents DSD’s continuing commitment to the River Lagan. The economic benefits of the regeneration of the Lagan have been well documented and they have been a part of the catalyst for hundreds of millions of pounds of development and regeneration along its banks. It is estimated that this project will give full time employment to 28 people and as the work will be carried out by a local contractor it is hoped it will give a boost to the NI construction sector.

“The timing of the dredge is opportune as it is hoped the river’s water quality will also benefit from the end of the Belfast Sewer Project recently completed by NI Water and this combined with the removal of organic silt will further improve the quality of the river.”

More details and updates on navigation arrangements, river closures and a noise pollution hotline will be posted on the DSD website on an ongoing basis.

Notes to editors:

  1. The last major dredging project of this scale in 1994 involved the river being closed and going tidal for 18 months with smelly mudflats being exposed. On this occasion the project will be carried out using floating plant, meaning that the river impoundment can be maintained and smells greatly reduced, and the contract will only last seven months.
  2. The contract will involve 60,000m3 of silt being removed by diggers mounted on floating pontoons which will fill motorised barges that will navigate the 4.8km section of river to the Lagan Weir where the material will be transferred to a large seagoing barge for disposal at an approved disposal location at sea.
  3. News Media enquiries to DSD Information Office on 028 9082 9078. Out of office please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699715440 and your call will be returned.