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Irish Water pipe objector fears being singled out by the utility


Pipeline campaigner Emma Kennedy

Pipeline campaigner Emma Kennedy

Pipeline campaigner Emma Kennedy

A woman mounting a campaign against Irish Water's proposed pipeline through the heart of the country, carrying water from the west through the midlands for consumption in Dublin, is concerned her objections will leave her being singled out by the utility.

Emma Kennedy is a self-employed corporate lawyer from the UK. The mother of three is married to a Tipperary man, William Kennedy, but the family is based in Zurich at present.

He grew up on a sprawling farm on the outskirts of Nenagh. His trade is mainly in racehorses and dairy cattle.

Now the couple are refurbishing Solsborough House, a nearby country manor that previously sold at auction for €2.2m in 2014. The couple's ambition is to move back to Ireland in the near future and raise their children here. Locals say it is a magnificent country estate.

Irish Water's proposed pipeline will not cut through the Solsborough estate, but it will dissect Mr Kennedy's homestead.

Locals are outraged. They estimate more than 500 farmers will be inconvenienced by the laying of the pipe.

Ms Kennedy told the Sunday Independent her gripe is not personal but based on a belief Irish Water's pipeline plans are wrong.

"We are not 'not-in-my-backyard' people. If there was a need (for the pipeline), there is no way we would try to stop it or push it on to a neighbour's land. But once you realise it is the wrong answer for Ireland, and for taxpayers, at that point you say 'no' and must fight it."

Her contention is that if Irish Water was to focus on repairing Dublin's creaking water infrastructure to repair leaks there would be no need for the pipe.

Irish Water has forecast an additional need for 330 million litres of water per day in the midlands and east by 2050. The utility insists 37pc of water is currently lost to leaks across its network, but Ms Kennedy says this figure is closer to 57pc when customer pipes between water meters and households are included. She said repairing the leaks would serve as a new water source for the capital and wants an independent review to see if the pipe is needed. She has also called on Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to intervene.

"It is not good governance. You would not get away with this in the private sector. This is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the country's history. It must be done right.

"If it goes to an independent review and that shows this project is needed, we would disappear."

Now she is concerned her campaign against the pipe will work against her. She said: "We wrote to Irish Water and asked them to confirm they will not treat us in a more detrimental way because of this challenge. We are talking about extensive works on the farm and if it does go ahead we want that work to be done as efficiently as possible."

A spokeswoman for the utility insisted all residents on or near the pipeline will be treated fairly.

"We value all feedback, positive and negative, and we can commit to treating all parties impacted by the work equitably and fairly," she said.

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