Hogan heckled at plant opening
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan accused a group of protesters today of “taking the environment for granted” after being heckled on his way in to the official opening of a new wastewater treatment plant.
The minister was greeted by more than 50 people encompassing Sinn Féin, People before Profit, and the Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire branches of the Campaign against Household and Water Taxes.
The group chanted loudly through megaphones as the minister was driven into the plant at Shanganagh in South County Dublin, and could be heard clearly as he delivered his speech.
In relation to water charges, Minister Hogan said “there will always be a few people out there who won’t want to pay for anything” and accused the protestors of “taking the environment for granted”.
“It’s not surprising that People before Profit are out there with Sinn Fein, who in Northern Ireland are asking people to pay local services charges at an average of €1,000 a house, but here in the Republic they have a different policy whereby people pay nothing. It’s unacceptable.
“I know that people at this gathering are very interested in the environment and environmental protection – and were it not for the fact that we have facilities like this, a lot of the people who are shouting outside would have a lot more to complain about in terms of all of the various environmental services that are being provided by local and national government that are often taken for granted.
“We had the resources over the past number of years for the of quality of life issues that we see taken for granted every day. They have to be paid for and they have to be paid for out of general taxation or they have to be paid for out of local contributions.
“It’s the same pot, irrespective of whether it’s local or national, and people have to make that contribution.
“I think a fair way of doing that is ‘pay as you use’, so that people who are wasting a very finite resource like water will be penalised, and those who are conserving it will be rewarded – but one way or another, it has to be paid for.”
He told the gathering that scenes such as those at today’s opening “can’t be avoided – I’m sure you’ll agree”.
The Shanganagh Bray Main Drainage Scheme is designed to provide “upgraded wastewater treatment” for people living in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown South and Bray areas.
The four year project employed up to 140 people and required a capital investment of €98.5 million by central government and the local authorities involved.
The works undertaken include the upgrading of the existing Shanganagh Wastewater Treatment Works to provide “very high level secondary treatment”, and the laying of a pipeline from Bray Pumping Station to the new Shanganagh plant to bring wastewater for treatment.
The new treatment plant has the capacity to treat effluent from 186,000 population equivalent with the potential to increase capacity to 248,000 in the future.