Opposition grows to Dublin sewage plant


OPPOSITION IS mounting across north Co Dublin to plans for a new €500 million regional sewage plant to serve up to 700,000 people in Dublin city and county, as well as parts of Meath and Kildare.

Nine sites, all in Fingal, have been selected as potential locations for the plant, which would be second in size only to the Ringsend sewage works.

The closing date for public submissions on the proposed locations is tomorrow. Reclaim Fingal, an alliance of opposition groups from each of the targeted communities, said it intended to present about 10,000 submissions against the proposal to Fingal County Council.

Controversy over the location of a large municipal sewage plant in north Co Dublin has been brewing for six years. The need for a second regional plant for Dublin and its surrounding counties was identified in the Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study, commissioned by Fingal on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities and published in 2005.

The study identified Portrane, north Co Dublin, as the best location for the plant. Opposition to the selection of Portrane was rapidly organised and extremely vocal, with actor and local resident Stephen Rea among those backing the campaign.

In November 2005, Fingal councillors rejected the plan for Portrane and ordered a review of the study. The review, completed in 2007, found a single regional treatment plant was still required and that the selection of the northern greater Dublin area was correct.

The review did not rule Portrane in or out of contention, but recommended that a new process of site selection begin.

Jacobs Engineering and Tobin Consulting Engineers were chosen this year to assess potential sites. Following their assessment, Portrane was taken out of the mix.

The nine potential locations are in townlands stretching from just south of Skerries to just north of Darndale. While the townlands would be unknown to most people, they are closest to the towns of Rush, Lusk, Swords, Portmarnock, Malahide and the village of Loughshinny.

The decision to eliminate Portrane from consideration was not due to political or public pressure, project engineer with Fingal County Council Peter O’Reilly said.

“Portrane has been screened out. There have been a number of archaeological and environmental designations that have been introduced since 2005 that mean the site is no longer suitable.”

He said the nine potential locations would be narrowed down next spring or early summer.

Reclaim Fingal chairman Brian Hosford said the group was greatly encouraged by the success of the Portrane campaign.

“The campaign is really ramping up; we hope to submit around 10,000 [objections] to the county hall on Friday and we are very hopeful that the separate communities, by sticking together, can defend themselves against this monster sewage plant.”

The campaign was not an exercise in “nimbyism”, Mr Hosford added. “This is not a case of ‘not in my back yard’, its a case of ‘not in anyone’s back yard’.

“This is not the correct solution. The potential for environmental disaster with a plant this size is enormous. There should be a series of local plants instead of pumping sewage from everywhere around the M50 into Fingal.”

A series of smaller plants had been considered, Mr O’Reilly said, but one large regional plant was determined to have a lesser potential impact on the environment.

In addition to objections from community groups, a number of sports organisations, including fishing and gun clubs, are opposing the plant.

The Irish Farmers Association also plans to make a submission to the council tomorrow outlining its concerns about the scale of the facility and its proximity to horticultural land.

Sites shortlist: 20 hectares required for new sewage plant

A PLOT of 20 hectares is required for the development of the new regional plant, which will cater for the sewage of up to 700,000 people and will accommodate the overflow from the Ringsend sewage treatment works.

Nine potential locations have been selected in townlands in the Fingal local authority area. From north to south the sites under consideration are at:

* Tyrrelstown Little (114 ha), 2.8km northeast of Lusk and 3.6km northwest of Rush, close to Loughshinny;

* Rathartan (41 ha), 2km west of Rush and 3km to the east of Lusk;

* Newtowncorduff (43 ha) 2.2km west of Lusk.

Moving further inland are the less densely populated areas of:

* Annsbrook (62 ha), 2.5km northeast of Ballyboughal;

* Baldurgan (57ha), 1.6km southeast of Ballyboughal;

* Cookstown (80ha), 2.5km southeast of Ballyboughal.

Still in a rural setting but moving back towards a more populated area is:

* Saucerstown (36 ha) 3.3km northwest of Swords; and

* Cloghran (32 ha), 3.3km south of Swords.

The final land parcel is at

* Clonshaugh (40 ha), just outside of Dublin city, 1.3km north of Belcamp and Darndale.

Following assessment of the public submissions, a further narrowing of the options will take place next spring into early summer. There will then be another round of public consultation. The preferred site is due for selection by the end of next year.

A planning application is expected to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála in 2013. Construction is due to begin in 2017 and the plant should be operational by 2020.