THE THREAT to the county's reputation as one of the finest food producing regions in the country was a constant theme of submissions to the latest round of public consultation on the controversial plans to site a giant regional sewage plant in Fingal.
The issue was raised in relation to all three sites currently shortlisted for the project but in particular, around the two sites in Lusk in the heartland of Fingal's agriculture and horticulture industries. Quoting from submissions made to it during the summer consultation on the project, the Greater Dublin Drainage Project team said that locals had expressed concern that ' this scheme will have a serious and negative effect on the market gardening hub of Ireland'. The Greater Dublin Drainage Project Team reported on the public consultation it carried out on its shortlist of three sites for the project, which was conducted during the summer and said: 'Many of the submissions received identified the importance of agriculture and horticulture to the area both from a financial and cultural perspective.' One submission to the project team said that the area was 'strategically important for national food production while another stated that this was 'one of the biggest suppliers of vegetable seeds to commercial horticultural growers throughout Ireland'. Many farmers were concerned that the sewage plant would put unbearable pressure on an already struggling industry, with one concerned local saying: 'We are being asked in this current climate to support local farmers yet we are willing to risk their industry with a giant sewage treatment plant?' Another submission to the project team asked: ' How the council could consider taking some of the best land in the country for this use is beyond comprehension.' Several submissions expressed concern that the project team was 'ignoring' the importance of agriculture and horticulture in Fingal and were 'willing to risk this industry with a giant sewage treatment plant'. Apart from the physical and environmental threats of the plant to the industry, others were concerned that its very presence would damage the reputation of Fingal food produce. 'One league or spill will close down horticulture in Fingal,' one submission stated, while another said: 'Any risk to the produce whether perceived or actual would jeopardise those engaged in the sector'.