Shannon pipeline application to be lodged by end of year

Irish Water chief says Dublin faces water shortages in 10 years without the project

Parteen Weir on Lough Derg. A planning application for Irish Water’s proposed €1bn pipeline linking Dublin to the Shannon is expected to lodged by the end of the year. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Parteen Weir on Lough Derg. A planning application for Irish Water’s proposed €1bn pipeline linking Dublin to the Shannon is expected to lodged by the end of the year. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

A planning application for Irish Water’s proposed €1 billion pipeline linking Dublin to the Shannon is expected to lodged by the end of the year.

Described as “one of the most important projects in the history of the State”, Irish Water said that if the plan doesn’t go ahead, the capital could face water shortages within 10 years.

Jerry Grant, managing director of Irish Water, told an Oireachtas committee on Wednesday that the Dublin region was currently using up 40 per cent of the water in the Liffey, which is “at the limits of what is sustainable”.

He warned that a single day in Dublin without water could cost the country €70 million in lost revenue, alongside considerable reputational damage.

He told the committee hearing on the Shannon pipeline project that, at current growth rates, there would be shortages of water for industrial development by 2025 or 2026.

He said demand for water in the Dublin region was currently just eight per cent short of capacity.

However, he said the project was designed so that Dublin would not benefit at a cost to other communities along the pipeline’s route.

Mr Grant said the fourth round of public consultation on the project had been completed and individual discussions were underway with farm owners who will have the pipeline routed across their properties.

He said Irish Water appreciated that the prospect of having a trench across your farm for two years during the development of the pipeline, as well as further time for land recovery, would significantly impact the farms.

Mr Grant said work on an environmental impact assessment of the finalised pipeline route is to “really only begin” this year.

He said a planning application would be made by the end of the year, with a Bord Pleanála oral hearing on the project expected in 2019 and construction scheduled to take place between 2021 to 2024.

Advantages

Former Fine Gael minister with responsibility for Irish Water Fergus O’Dowd said that “the key” to the project was “selling the economic and social advantages to the people” in communities outside Dublin, and compensating them for any disturbance caused by the project by funding local schools and clubs.

“There must be an immediate significant community benefit” he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin asked if the utility was going ahead with the application before the publication of the National Planning Framework for development, which is due in September of this year.

He said there was a danger of having development which was led by the presence of the pipeline and he questioned the project’s impact on balanced regional development.

Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey said that, while the supply of water to Dublin was vital, Irish Water had lodged a planning application for works at its Vartry scheme with Wicklow County Council without an environmental impact assessment of the project.

He said this had caused Inland Fisheries Ireland to appeal the application, which meant that one State agency was appealing the plans of another.

“It is disappointing” he said.