THE DEPARTMENT of the Environment is to spend €62 million to build a local sewerage plant in Portrane, Co Dublin, an area which had been earmarked for a major regional sewerage plant to serve the greater Dublin area.
Minister for the Environment John Gormley has given permission for Fingal County Council to build the plant to serve the coastal communities of Portrane, Donabate, Rush and Lusk.
The facility will have capacity to cater for up to 65,000 people.
The Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study, published three years ago, had designated Portrane as the site for a new regional sewerage plant which would have the capacity to process the waste of up to 850,000 people and would be second in size only to the Ringsend treatment plant.
This study was commissioned by the seven local authorities in the greater Dublin area - the four Dublin councils and Meath, Kildare and Wicklow - to determine the sewerage and drainage needs of the region until 2031. The Portrane plant, which at 2005 estimates was to cost €140 million, was one of the key elements of the study. A spokesman for the Department of the Environment has acknowledged that the local plant would not be needed if the regional plant had gone ahead.
Its development has been on hold since November 2005 when Fingal councillors from all parties voted to reject any proposals for a "single super waste water treatment plant" in the Fingal area and ordered that a strategic environmental assessment be carried out on the drainage study.
Three months ago, the assessment recommended that the regional plant was necessary and should be built on the north Dublin coastline. However, the exact location of the plant will only be determined following a new site-selection process.
This does not rule out Portrane as the location for the regional plant. Consultants will shortly be appointed to undertake the new site selection study, and could still recommend Portrane as the best site for the plant.
The Department of the Environment said it was necessary to press ahead with the local plant to cater for the needs of the growing coastal communities.
"This plant will be for local needs only. If we had built the regional treatment plant, there would be no need for a new plant, but if it is decided that Portrane is the best location for that plant, there maybe a proposal to add it on," a spokesman said.
The Irish Times