Protest threatened at Uisce Éireann’s headquarters as demand for homes puts elected members under pressure
While Irish Water has approved seven projects to go ahead in Cork out of a total of 35 throughout the country, disappointment was expressed at Monday’s council meeting that work would not be completed on one of these until next year with knock-on delays for housebuilding projects.
Cllr John Paul O’Shea expressed bitter dismay that of the seven, two – the proposed waste water treatment plants in Lisgoold and Ballineen/Enniskeane – were only at concept design stage.
“The remaining five projects in Ballinspittle, Belgooley, Castlemagner, Killumney/Ovens and Glanworth will only progress to concept design stage in 2023,” said the councillor.
"This likely means all seven projects will now not be completed and operational under the current capital programme which comes to an end in 2024.
"As a council, we should insist on the prioritisation of these projects during 2023 to ensure current houses and new houses proposed for these seven villages have access to improved wastewater services.”
He said the response to his motion from the County Engineer Kevin Morey indicating that none of the projects had moved to detailed design stage and that two were still at the first stage.
“My fears have been confirmed because I know for a fact, sitting here this morning, that not one of these projects is going to be completed before 2024.
"That means that not one house can be added to the existing waste water infrastructure that’s currently in place in any of these seven villages,” he said, pointing out that planning applications for proposed homes in any of these villages could not even be considered at present.
“These seven villages are out on a limb until Irish Water get moving on these projects and bring them forward.”
Cllr O’Shea said the money had been provided by Government and detailed information supplied by the council.
“We now need to ask Irish Water to fast-track these projects through the strategic assessment and business case elements and implement these projects as quickly as possible.”
Opportunities to give Irish Water a broadside haven’t been passed up at recent council meetings and this week’s gathering was no exception as councillor after councillor repeated oft proclaimed criticisms of the utility which, it was noted, had changed its name to the Irish version, Uisce Éireann.
That wouldn’t spare it the opprobrium of the councillors as they told their colleagues that they were constantly receiving calls from constituents seeking to build homes but not being able to even apply for planning permission because the current waste water treatment facility in their villages were at full capacity.
Cllr O’Shea had requested that the Council support his request to seek a meeting with the Irish Water/Uisce Éireann chief executive to pursue these matters and that was forthcoming. However some councillors went further as Cllr Bernard Moynihan said if a meeting wouldn’t be granted, councillors should mount a protest outside the headquarters of the utility.
Cllr Moynihan pointed out that a project for around 70 houses was waiting to go in Castlemagnier as soon as the long-awaited waste water treatment plant was in place.
“There are already ten or twelve sites in the village ready to be immediately connected,” he said.
Other councillors pointed out that they had approved a County Development Plan for 2022-8 last year but that this strategy, which included the building of hundreds of new homes, was being undermined by delays in developing waste water treatment plants.
Cllr O’Shea added that while Uisce Éireann was planning to announce another tranche of 28 proposed waste water treatment plants nationwide to come on stream after 2024, that this seemed pointless when the 35 waste water treatment plants planned to be completed by 2024 wouldn’t be in place by that deadline
The Deputy CEO of Cork County Council said the authority’s executive was fully behind the councillors and described the ongoing delays as frustrating.