Galway council to meet Howlin

 

GALWAY Corporation will send a delegation to meet the Minister for the Environment to ascertain the form of sewage treatment plant he is prepared to sanction for the city.

This follows Mr Howlin's recent indication that he was no longer prepared to fund a ground-level plant on Mutton Island in Galway Bay together with a causeway from the mainland which was planned to service it.

Most city councillors favour the previously approved ground-level plant which is subject to a court challenge by a member of the Save Galway Bay group.

The European Commission also has reservations about the latter option on environmental grounds.

In what appears to be a significant concession, the city council has decided it will tell Mr Howlin it is prepared to consider the underground option without a causeway (which Mr Howlin wishes to be put to tender on a "design, build and operate" basis), if its first preference proves impossible.

The local authority responded to Mr Howlin's latest stance by seeking a report on how to secure tenders for both plant types - what was described as a twin- tracked approach to the tendering process.

It concluded it would take longer to finalise a tender and instal the underground option. In addition, it would be significantly more expensive to build and operate.

The delay could have implications for EU funding, which was not forthcoming for the original design, as sewage treatment facilities have to be completed by 2000 to comply with waste water directives.

Meanwhile, the continuing threat of a court challenge to the decision to put the ground-level plant at Mutton Island is worrying city councillors.

The objectors should be asked to withdraw their action in the interests of the city, Mr Padraic McCormack TD (FG) said, as "no bathing" signs would soon be necessary on some city beaches because of growing pollution.

He was supported by Mrs Bridie O'Flaherty (PD), who said objectors to the original design were "not doing any good for the city" as Galway Bay at present was not fit to swim in.