Monday 4 February 2008

Protecting our groundwater is top priority

Protecting our groundwater sources is a matter of top priority, Environment Minister John Gormley has said.

With the prospect of a landfill still hanging over Fingal and a local action group claiming a major water supply could be jeapordised, Minister Gormley said it was 'common sense' to protect our sources.

'I do think that we have to look much more closely at groundwater,' he said. 'Groundwater is an area that has fallen between a number of stools.

'It's fallen between my department and my colleague's department, because geological survey looks after groundwater, which is [Minister for Energy and Communication] Eamon Ryan's department.

'I think it's an area that, because of the increasing shortage of water or surface water, we have to look at protecting.

'I see that certainly as a priority. In other countries groundwater is really the source of their drinking water and I think we have to understand that.

'Otherwise, we are looking at other options going forward. People talk about desalination, they're talking about abstractions from the Shannon.

'The third element is looking after our groundwater and the fourth element would be conservation. Without a doubt, it's common sense.'

Referring to the proposed landfill at the Nevitt, the Minister declined to comment on the case itself, but instead spoke of the need for good waste management practice.

'I don't want to interfere in any planning process, other than make one general comment. Where we have landfills, I think it's very important that in terms of the whole waste strategy, that a, we reduce the amount going to landfill and b, that what is going to landfill is inert, that you don't get the leachate and that you protect groundwater.

'Those are key principals of good waste management and I would hope that they would be applied in every single county throughout Ireland.'

The Nevitt Lusk Action Group, which is opposing the project, has called for jail sentences for those who pollute water sources and have sought Minister Gormley's backing.

'I've already brought in tough sentences for those who actually pollute,' he added. 'There have been major increase in fines and indeed custodial sentences - that's important.'

Fingal Independent

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