Monday 29 August 2011

Huge public opposition to Portrane sewage site

A SHORTLIST of sites for a new Dublin regional sewage treatment plant, second only in size to the Ringsend sewerage works, will be prepared within weeks.

More than 1,200 public submissions on plans for the plant, which will serve Dublin city and county as well as parts of Meath and Kildare, were published yesterday.

The submissions were overwhelmingly opposed to the selection of Donabate or Portrane in north Co Dublin as a possible site for the plant.

A study published six years ago identified Portrane as the best site for a new municipal plant to satisfy the region’s growing needs. However, Fingal councillors rejected the plan and ordered a review of the study.

The review, completed in 2007, found existing sewerage systems were not adequate to cope with demand, and that a single regional treatment plant was best.

It recommended that the plant still be located in the “northern greater Dublin area”, but not necessarily Portrane. However, it did not rule out Portrane.

Jacobs Engineering and Tobin Consulting Engineers were this year chosen to assess potential sites, while RPS, consultants for the Ringsend sewage plant and the Poolbeg incinerator, are managing public relations and public consultation.

The public consultation process, which took place two months ago, was intended to identify any constraints which should be considered in selecting the site.

Of the 1,200 submissions, more than 1,000 said the site selected for the plant in 2005 should be discounted. A large number of submissions referred to the proposed facility as a “monster” sewage treatment plant, which they said would have catastrophic effects on designated environmental conservation areas such as Rogerstown estuary on the Portrane/Donabate peninsula. Particular mention was made of the threat posed to the Brent geese population.

Local blue flag beaches, coastal walks and golf courses would be ruined by the sight and smell of a sewage plant, according to several submissions.

“What chance then for the enjoyment of a golf outing with the dreadful smell of sewage wafting around the place, on one’s clothes and in one’s nostrils?” a letter asked.

Several submissions raised the concern that Portrane and Donabate were being used as a “dumping ground” for the greater Dublin area. The community had already agreed to a plant to take the waste of the surrounding areas of Rush and Lusk.

Some suggestions were made that an inland location be chosen, such as the planned Nevitt landfill near Lusk or Dublin airport.

Several people raised the concern that Portrane, having previously been identified as a suitable site for the plant, compromised the fairness of the process, leading to a suspicion of predetermination of the outcome.

While a shortlist of sites will soon be determined it is likely to be next year before the final location is selected. A planning application will then be made to An Bord Pleanála.

North County Dublin beaches have repeatedly failed EU water tests since the rejection by councillors of the Portrane plant. Last year Burrow beach in Sutton was one of four beaches nationally to fail minimum water cleanliness tests. Traces of human or animal waste were also found at Balbriggan front strand and Loughshinny.

Irish Times

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