House building ‘delayed by lack of water treatment’
Irish Water unable to connect proposed new housing developments, conference hears
Construction Industry Federation director Tom Parlon: told conference low spending on roads, schools, water treatment and other infrastructure, would hit the economy at a crucial time. Photograph: Eric Luke
A lack of water treatment is delaying the construction of much-needed new homes around the Republic, builders warned yesterday.
Addressing a conference in Dublin, Construction Industry Federation director Tom Parlon predicted that low spending on roads, schools, water treatment and other infrastructure, would hit the economy at a crucial time.
Speaking afterwards, he and the federation’s president, Dominic Doheny, highlighted water treatment as a bottleneck.
They said members were reporting that Irish Water could not connect proposed new housing developments, delaying their construction.
Mr Parlon noted that the problem was at its worst in parts of Dublin’s commuter belt and in the regions. “There is a major need to invest in water infrastructure,”he stressed.
According to Mr Doheny, many existing water treatment plants needed extra capacity. “It could prevent further development in the regions,” he said.
Both men suggested that had the Government gone ahead with domestic water charges, the State utility would have been able to raise cash independently to build treatment plants.
Irish Water said it was tackling the problem by extending the existing treatment network where feasible, alleviating bottlenecks and engaging with developers.
The utility added that developers should contact it before seeking planning permission for housing, so they could establish if a connection was feasible and what work it would require.
“Irish Water also engages with planning authorities in prioritising infrastructure in support of housing development and delivering this in the shortest possible time,” the company said.
It did not agree that funding was the problem. The Commission for Energy Regulation approves Irish Water’s financing and spending plans.
In a speech to the National Construction Summit, Mr Parlon argued that Europe’s budgetary rules, which regulate what the Government can spend and borrow, were actually hampering State investment in infrastructure.
He said that the Government could not afford to wait until next year, when it may have more cash available, if Republic hits its growth targets, to step up spending on key projects.
“The EU must be convinced of Ireland’s case to enable increased investment by our politicians,” he said.
Mr Parlon added that it would be “tremendous legacy” for the new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, if he could convince the EU to relax its rules.