IT is likely to be some time before the planned upgrade of Shannon’s Wastewater Treatment Plant will even get underway, while it also looks like funding for advance works for the Shannon Sewerage Scheme won’t be available.
At this week’s meeting of local area councillors, Councillor Gerry Flynn put forward a motion asking “that the environment section of Clare County Council provide a report detailing the current situation concerning Shannon’s Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade and also advise when the planned project is likely to go ahead”.
In a written reply, Anthony McNamara, senior executive engineer with the council’s Water Services Section stated, “The preliminary report, which was prepared for the council by Nicholas O’Dwyer, Consulting Engineers, was submitted to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG) in May 2011 and is awaiting approval.
“Following approval of the report, it will be necessary to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for submission to An Bord Pleanála and this process is intended to be initiated on approval of the preliminary report. The process has, however, been initiated but cannot be completed until the preliminary report is approved by the DEHLG.
“The council will then be in a position to prepare contract documents for the improvement works proposed in the preliminary report, which includes the upgrade and expansion of the wastewater treatment plant at Tradaree Point.
“We anticipate that the DEHLG will issue review comments on the preliminary report within the next few weeks. The council will not, however, be in a position to provide a timetable for the progression of the scheme until the DEHLG comments become available.
“The implications that the comments might have on the timetable for progression of the scheme can then be estimated. It is likely that preparation of the EIS and obtaining approval from An Bord Pleanála may take 12 months or more.”
Councillor Flynn said it is “one of those old chestnut problems in Shannon” and is set to cost between €22 and €24 million in total.
He asked senior executive engineer Eugene O’Shea for his views on the allocation of €1m to proceed with advance works for a mechanical and electrical contract on the Shannon Sewerage Scheme.
Responding, Mr O’Shea said the total cost of this contract would be in the region of €1.2m, while the department had said that 52% of the funding, around €600,000, will have to be provided by the local authority. He also said there was no decision on when or if this work would start.
On hearing this, Councillor Flynn was critical of the original announcement, which had led people to believe the whole €1.2m would be forthcoming, saying it had given people “false hope”.
He said many people had contacted him after the original announcement. “I had numerous calls from people who were quite happy that at least remedial works would be done but it’s looking like they won’t be done,” he said.
Councillor Patricia McCarthy said news that the council would have to make a percentage contribution isn’t good, particularly following cutbacks to the council’s local government funding.
Fine Gael Councillor Sean McLoughlin suggested the council go back to the minister and make an approach for more money.