independent

Saturday 24 August 2019

An Bord Pleanala gives green light to wastewater plant plans

The long-awaited project is expected to improve water quality in the Avoca River and help to bring economic benefits and housing to Arklow, writes Eimear Dodd

The wastewater treatment plant is to be built at the old Wallboard site on the North Quay in Arklow
The wastewater treatment plant is to be built at the old Wallboard site on the North Quay in Arklow

An Bord Pleanála has given the green light to plans for the Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The decision moves the development in the town a step closer. The news has been widely welcomed by local representatives pointing to the potential for new housing and economic development for the town and surrounding areas.

The project includes the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant to cater for a population equivalent of 36,000, sewer pipelines and a marine outfall pipe to discharge the treated wastewater into the Irish Sea at the site of the Old Wallboard Factory on the North Quay. Currently, raw sewage is discharged directly into the Avoca River in breach of national and EU guidelines. The decision allows Irish Water to begin a procurement process for the construction of the plant.

John Joyce, Infrastructure Programme Regional Lead with Irish Water, said: 'We welcome the decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the proposed Arklow Wastewater Treatment Plant. Since Irish Water took over the responsibility for water and wastewater services in January 2014, addressing the need to eliminate the discharge of raw sewage into the River Avoca has been a top priority. The proposed new wastewater treatment plant will have huge benefits for the residents and businesses in Arklow and the tourists that visit the area as it will improve the water quality in the River Avoca and enable future economic growth in the area. This project is critical in safeguarding the wastewater system in Arklow for the future.

'We have had extensive consultation with the community to date and are committed to working closely with all residents and stakeholders as we progress this significant infrastructure project with benefits for all. To date, raw sewage has been discharged directly into the Avoca. This project, on completion, will see significant improvements to water quality in Arklow, which is better for the environment and the local community. Over 15,000 people will be connected to the new scheme.'

The provision of a wastewater treatment plant for Arklow is required under national and European legislation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highlighting the discharge of untreated wastewater into the Avoca River. The Wicklow County Development Plan 2016- 2022 Housing Strategy also noted the lack of a treatment plant was 'a service deficiency,' particularly as the population is expected to increase to 19,494 by 2022, requiring over 2,000 additional houses to be built.

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