THERE are fears that An Daingean sewage treatment plant may not be able to cope with demands when the population grows hugely during the tourist season.
The plant is designed for a population equivalent of 8,600 people but, according to a Kerry County Council development plan for An Daingean, the peak load in July 2005 was 13,209 people. Also, because of the growth in housing and holiday homes, the plan says the treatment capacity of the plant could be “a constraint on new development in the short term”.
A local development group has written to the Environment Minister Dick Roche and EU Commissioner Stavros Dimas about the matter. In spite of the council’s concerns, no constraints are being applied to development in Dingle, according to Sean Brosnan, of Dingle Sustainable Development Group.
“For instance, planning permission has recently been granted for 76 housing units in the Grove. Planning permission had of course already been granted to scores of holiday homes now coming on stream, such as those on Greenmount, above the town,” he said in the letter. “We are concerned that the Dingle Wastewater Treatment Plant cannot cope in the summer and we have brought this concern to the attention of the Kerry County Council on a number of occasions.”
A report on the issue from the EPA is awaited.
The group has also called for a moratorium on the building of holiday homes in An Daingean until the sewage treatment plant issue is addressed.
“There are also other issues, such as the effects of holiday home developments on the price of general housing and on the landscape,” Mr Brosnan said.
A situation has been reached where some local people can no longer afford to build, or buy, houses in the area.
Councillors have rezoned a large amount of land for housing and holiday homes, against the advice of the county manager and planners. “They have gone so far as to move the town boundary for the sole purpose of encircling fields a mile away from town,” Mr Brosnan said. He has urged Mr Roche to “dezone” some of the land which has been rezoned in An Daingean.
Meanwhile, an excess of holiday homes is having a negative impact on the character of Gaeltacht villages west of An Daingean.
This is according to a new draft development plan for the West Kerry Gaeltacht which highlights an imbalance between a large number of holiday homes and houses occupied all year round by local people.
Senior planning engineer Tom Sheehy said holiday homes which were unoccupied for most of the year were a deterrent to locals wishing to live in villages. He also maintained enough land had been zoned for holiday homes in An Daingean to cater for the needs of the general area (58 acres with potential to provide for about 600 houses).
“This provision will satisfy the demand for holiday homes and maintain the economic benefits from tourism accommodation.”
© Irish Independent