PLEASE TAKE TIME TO READ THIS INFORMATION
Transport Hub Alternatives Group (THAG) consists of groups including the Boyne Bridge Defenders and individuals committed to saving the Boyne Bridge at Sandy
Row, Belfast. THAG had been waiting for the result of the findings of an Archaeological Evaluation & Bridge Coring in September 2019. The investigation was to establish or otherwise the existence of the 1642 Great Bridge; the name was later changed to
the Salt Water Bridge. THAG were not made aware that the report was complete and available on the Planning Portal NI and it was only after a question was asked about it at Stormont, that we received the information.
THAG to be kept in the dark about the finished report and not to have received a copy is further proof that Translink does not intend to work in any serious way with the local community and other stakeholders. It makes nonsense of the statement by the Chief
Executive, Chris Conway on BBC television on 6th November 2019. Mr Conway stated, “certainly these issues (concerns about the Boyne Bridge) have been talked through and discussed and we are very pleased that we have the support of communities
going forward.” They certainly were not discussed with THAG and Translink do not have our support for their plans to demolish the Boyne Bridge.
Anyone who cares to look at the Planning Portal NI on which comments are
recorded from those who supported the FULL Transport Hub planning application and those against, will discover exactly what support was given to Translink's plans: Only 7 residents throughout Northern Ireland supported Translink's plans with only 4 of them
from Belfast. There was not one letter of support from any resident from Sandy Row. A total of 217 residents objected to the FULL planning application, although it can be assumed that the main objection was to the demolition of the Boyne Bridge. There were
also petitions in support of the Boyne Bridge, totalling 6,169 names.
7 residents' letters from all over Northern Ireland supporting Translink's Full Planning Application could not be seen as an endorsement. It is also an
embarrassment considering the thousands of pounds spent on promoting the plans before the planning application was officially submitted to the planners.
We are left wondering why there was an apparent reluctance to provide
us with a copy of the Archaeological Evaluation. Was it because it might contain information that might impact on their plans to demolish the bridge? It might also be the case that Translink hoped to get a quick decision from the Dfc Historic Division without
getting THAG involved.
What I have read from the report confirms the existence of the historic fabric of the Saltwater Bridge and that it will remain in situ. This is a major success in THAG’s campaign. We now focus
on saving the 1936 Boyne Bridge which incorporates the Saltwater Bridge.
We take encouragement from a letter issued by the DfC Historic Environment Division in which they require further design details on bridge profiling
works to establish preservation of the historic fabric of Saltwater Bridge.
THAG regret that we have 'lost' over a year by not being informed about the report and one copy which I printed out myself is not sufficient for
all of our members to study.
Finally, there is only one sure way of protecting the 1642 bridge and that is keeping the existing Boyne Bridge.
Billy Dickson BEM