Irish Water’s final proposed route for its €1.2 billion Shannon to Dublin water pipe will affect over 500 landowners, many of them farmers.
The 170km pipe route, published today, will run from Parteen Basin through Tipperary and Offaly to Peamount in west Dublin if approved.
A number of farmers, tourism and environmental interests in the Lough Derg area are expected to oppose the plan, which aims to meet Irish Water’s projected drinking water needs in the capital and in the midlands.
Irish Water argues that population growth and industry demands require the investment, which it describes as the first major new water source upgrade for Dublin and the eastern midlands in the last 60 years.
Pumping treated water from the Shannon to Dublin and midlands will supply about 330 million litres of water a day, it says. It argues that neither repairing leaks nor water conservation would meet projected needs.
The final preferred route refines an “emerging route” on a 2km-wide corridor to a 50m corridor for construction, and a 20m permanent wayleave (right of way).
The State utility aims to submit the application by late 2017, with construction if approved expected between 2021 and 2024 for both the pipe and water treatment plant at Birdhill.
Both the ESB and landowners will be compensated, it says. The ESB will be paid for lost generating capability at Ardnacrusha – estimated at about €1 million annually.
It hopes to get the voluntary agreement of landowners for compensation and is meeting the two main representative organisations, the Irish Farmers' Association and Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, to agree a package.
Irish Water argues the long-term impact on farming will be minimal, but it is including allowances for the legal burden on title, loss of crops during construction and overall disturbance in a compensation package.
IFA environment and rural affairs chairman Thomas Cooney described the proposals as "one of the most intrusive infrastructure developments to be imposed on landowners since the development of the motorway roads network over a decade ago".
He said the IFA recently held talks with Ervia, Irish Water’s parent company, and had insisted that farmers’ concerns be addressed.