Bord na Móna to seek planning permission for giant reservoir
Chief executive Gabriel D’Arcy says recent drought shows need for more water storage
Bord na Mona chief executive Gabriel D’Arcy: ‘We have done the engineering studies for it with regards to our part of the project.’ Photograph: Frank Miller
Bord na Móna has said it is ready to submit its part of the planning permission for a giant reservoir which will supply the east coast with water.
The €540 million reservoir situated at a cut-away bog on the Offaly-Laois border near Portarlington will store water extracted from Lough Derg on the Shannon.
Bord na Móna chief executive Gabriel D’Arcy said the recent drought illustrated the need for such a facility, with water restrictions in midland counties at present.
It is anticipated the reservoir will store 12 billion cubic metres of water, enough to supply Dublin and the midlands for three months.
He said Bord na Móna was “good to go” to submit for planning permission for the reservoir itself which is situated on lands owned by the semi-State.
“We have done the engineering studies for it with regards to our part of the project – the 1,200-acre site and the 15-20 per cent of the pipeline that will be on our lands.”
Bord na Móna has envisaged that the Garryhinch water supply project will not only be a reservoir but also a tourism facility modelled on Rutland Water in Britain which includes an inland fishery and sailing school.
The prospect of taking water from the Shannon to supply Dublin was first mooted by Dublin City Council six years ago and is likely to face opposition from local people who fear extraction will upset the ecological balance in the Shannon basin.
The project will be taken over by the newly formed Irish Water next year, which will co-ordinate the submission of a planning permission. However, the scheme, if it gets planning permission from An Bord Pleanála as a major infrastructure project, is at least seven years away, according to Minister of State for the Environment Fergus O’Dowd.
Speaking in the Dáil last week, Mr O’Dowd said planning permission would take two years, design and procurement a further two years, and that would be followed by the construction and commissioning phase, which would take three years after that.
In response to a question from Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley, he said it was a project that had to be done properly and could not afford to be rushed.
Mr Stanley said the reservoir appeared to be on a “go-slow” despite a supply and demand balance in the Dublin region which was only 1 per cent.