Friday 5 August 2011

Sewage plant site still not chosen despite €17m fees

CONSULTANTS HAVE been paid almost €17 million in relation to the development of a new Dublin regional sewage treatment plant, even though a site has yet to be selected for the facility.

A study published six years ago identified Portrane in north Dublin as the best site for the new plant which would be second in size only to the Ringsend sewerage works. However, Fingal councillors rejected the plan and ordered a review of the study.

The Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study was commissioned by Fingal on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities from the Dublin Drainage Consultancy, a consortium involving Hyder Consulting, and Dublin-based firms PH McCarthy Partners and RPS-MCOS. The published cost of the study in 2005 was €10 million. However, new figures released by Fingal now set its cost at €14.9 million.

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

Fingal has now appointed Jacobs Engineering and Tobin Consulting Engineers to identify a possible site for the new sewage works on a 24-month contract costing €1.5 million. A further €360,000 is being paid to RPS Consultants to provide communications and public relations services to the project.

A group of north Dublin residents who started the Fairshare campaign group in 2005 to oppose the facility said the spending on consultants’ fees was a waste of public money.

“The local authorities on the east coast have spent €17 million and six years and are still no nearer to finding a site for a new regional sewage plant. The only people gaining here appear to be consultants working for the local authorities,” Fairshare spokesman David Moore said.

A spokeswoman for the council said the cost of the investment in the infrastructure, which is the largest drainage project currently being planned in the country, is likely to be in the hundreds of millions of euro and studies were required to be carried out in order to make “an informed and correct decision” before any locations are chosen.

A shortlist of sites would be published in the coming months, she said, which would be followed by extensive public consultation.

It would be next year before a preferred site for the infrastructure was identified and a planning application made to An Bord Pleanála.

Beaches in north Dublin 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, also in Fingal.

Fingal county manager David O’Connor has said the new plant was essential to future employment, social progress and economic growth in the region.

However, the choice of any site in Fingal is likely to be met with strenuous opposition.

Irish Times

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