Thursday, 15 February 2007

Brussels intervene in Bleach Lough dispute

Martin Byrnes writing in the Limerick Leader tells us that the long-running dispute over the Pallaskenry and Kildimo water supply is to move to Brussels at the end of this month. The petitions committee of the European Parliament has invited representatives of the group which wants to retain the supply from Bleach Lough to make its case directly before it.
This comes after a written submission was accepted last summer. "Three of us will be going, possibly more, and we will have documentation and slides," said Dan Foley, secretary of Bleach Lough Retention Committee. "The European Parliament should protect the rights of people to retain clean water and not have to drink heavily treated river water." Mr Foley said that, during the long dry spell last year, much of the water in the River Deel, which is the alternative source being offered by the County Council, was from the outflows of sewage treatment plants. "The committee put the petition together ourselves and we hope for the backing of the petitions committee after we meet them," he said. Mr Foley was uncertain what pressure the European Parliament can put on the County Council or the Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, to reverse their present stance, but he said that the European Court remains an option after the procedure at the parliament has been gone through. The group has the support in Europe of Munster MEP Cathy Synnott. "And remember, the committee are preparing for a judicial review in the High Court also," said Mr Foley. "We have so far spent over €11,000 of our own
money in legal fees in our campaign to keep our clean water. We will have to put our hands in our pockets again to take the case to the High Court." The dispute has been smouldering for many years. The County Council's stance is that Bleach Lough, a spring-fed lake, is an isolated source and that there would be no alternative in the event of pollution. The council wants to connect Pallaskenry and Kildimo to the nearby trunk mains, which carry water from the Deel, as part of an integrated scheme to eventually link all the water systems along the Shannon Estuary with the Limerick city network, fed by the Shannon. The Bleach Lough activists say that they have no problem with anywhere else getting an improved water service, but that they want to be left alone. A Council spokesman said that they had no comment to make at this stage. They were unaware, he added, of the any decision to take the matter to Europe, and had not been contacted on the matter.

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