THE SEARCH for a site for a new regional sewerage plant for the greater Dublin area is to resume more than three years after the original location at Portrane in north Dublin was rejected by Fingal county councillors.
The 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 sewerage plant, was recommended by the Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study, published in 2005.
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 €140 million Portrane plant was to be one of the key elements of the plan as it was to take the strain from the already overburdened sewerage systems of west Dublin suburbs of Blanchardstown, Mulhuddart, Lucan and Clondalkin, as well as catering for the needs of rapidly growing communities in east Meath and north Kildare.
However, 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.
The commissioning of this assessment was approved by the managers in the seven local authorities. It has now been completed and has recommended that the regional plant is necessary and should be located on the north Dublin coastline. But the exact location of the plant will only be determined following a new site selection process.
The report also said the lack of sewerage facilities was putting constraints on developments that had been accepted for the area. Future development would be “seriously curtailed” if the situation was not remedied.
The search for a new site will hold back the already delayed project by a further two years at the least before planning permission for the plant can be sought.
While Portrane has received a reprieve, it is not out of the running in terms of site selection.
The assessment did not recommend any potential sites but laid down certain environmental criteria – in relation to issues such as air and water quality, health, climate factors, and landscape impact – which will be used to choose the best site.
“The environmental report is the wringer through which potential sites will be put,” Paul Smyth, senior executive officer with Fingal’s water services department, said.
The strategic environmental assessment was last week presented to the environmental committees of the seven local authorities, with the recommendation that consultants now be appointed to select the new site. This appointment will require the approval of each local authority and is likely to take between three and six months.
The selection of a site will take a further six to 18 months.