By CAROL BYRNE
IRISH Water is to fund an independent assessment, currently being conducted by North Tipperary County Council, on proposed plans to abstract water from Lough Derg. This came to light at a joint meeting of the Newport and Killaloe electoral area councillors held in Killaloe this week.
Concern was raised by the Killaloe Electoral Area councillors after North Tipperary councillor, Phyll Bugler discussed a report featured in a national newspaper that suggested the abstraction could be taken from Parteen in South East Clare.
Councillor Bugler said she felt a proposal to take the water from Parteen and not from Terryglass as originally mooted might be “a lesser evil” and could help protect ecological interests in Lough Derg.
Although she later stated that she was against any abstraction of water from Lough Derg, her comments were met with staunch opposition from councillors Pascal Fitzgerald, Pat Hayes, Joe Cooney and Pat Burke. Councillor Fitzgerald said he totally objected the taking of water from Parteen, or indeed anywhere on Lough Derg.
“We in Clare County Council are fighting for no abstraction. Let Dublin sort out it’s own problems. Irish Water now have the responsibility for this, they should sort it out. I’m against any water abstraction and I don’t want to see any water taken,” he said.
Councillor Hayes said he was surprised by the suggestion that Parteen might be a location for abstraction, and asked the North Tipperary representatives to jointly support the County Clare councillors in their opposition to these proposed plans.
He asked for clarity from the Tipperary representatives as to why this support had not come up to now.
Councillor John Carroll of the Newport Electoral Area said he was against the proposal from day one but that the North Tipperary council had voted to seek independent technical advice and to wait for this before taking a vote.
Councillor Hayes asked for further clarity as to who was paying for this independent advice and if Clare County Council could come together with the North Tipperary Council to fund and support this assessment.
Marcus O’Connor area manager for the Newport Electoral Area explained that Irish Water has indicated that the proposed abstraction plan is one of four or five major strategic development projects.
“Ultimately An Bord Pleanala will adjudicate on this and as far as we know Irish Water will look at a number of locations from Terryglass to Parteen. No decision has been made on that as yet. Clare County Council and Limerick City Council passed a motion opposing the abstraction plan. A similar motion came before North Tipperary County Council, which was not passed and instead it was decided by the councillors that they would get independent professional advice on the environmental and economical impact. Irish Water engaged their own consultants and North Tipperary Council have appointed consultants to shadow Irish Water’s consultants. It was agreed not to take a stance until the assessment was done,” he said.
It emerged that Dublin City Council was to fund the Tipperary council’s independent assessment and as responsibility has now shifted to Irish Water, it will now fund the independent assessment. This was to assist the council in making a submission when the matter would go before An Bord Pleanala.
Mr O’Connor said the planning process is expected to take up to three years, given the nature of the development and as it will require an oral hearing. He added that it would be a further two to three years from planning approval, if that is the ruling, before any abstraction would take place.
Councillor Hayes sought a joint approach to opposing the abstraction plan and suggested that both councils come together.