The Cabinet has approved new legislation that will allow the development of the controversial €1.3 billion pipeline that will extract water from the River Shannon to meet Dublin’s water needs.
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy brought a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday proposing the drafting of a Water Environment (Abstractions) Bill.
The Bill will allow for the licensing of large-scale water abstractions in the State.
Specifically, it will allow the massive Shannon pipeline to proceed. This project, backed by Irish Water, proposes to use water from the Shannon to supply water to the capital, and to urban areas in the East and Midlands. Water supplies in the capital are already at critically low levels.
The project has already been subject to a long period of consultation. It has been fiercely opposed by landowners along some of the proposed route, who have argued its impact will be detrimental and could “dry up” the Lower Shannon.
They have also contended the rate that Irish Water has repaired leaks in its system in Dublin has been considerably lower than comparators in the UK. Fixing the leaks at a higher level, they have argued, would negate the need to abstract water supplies from Ireland’s largest river.
With the population of Dublin projected to rise by 600,000 before 2040, this massive project proposes to extract 330 million litres of water from the River Shannon and pipe it to Dublin. The estimated cost is €1.3 billion.
It will necessitate the construction of a 170km pipeline from Parteen Basin, downriver from Lough Derg.
Mr Murphy told Cabinet colleagues on Tuesday the legislation would be applied in a proportionate and fair way. The new requirements set out by the Bill are expected to be overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).