No water, no plan
Inadequate water treatment infrastructure could mean that certain towns and villages in Cork will not benefit from the Cork County Development Plan 2022-2028.
County councillors have called on Irish Water to “come to the table” in order for the development plan to progress as much of the plan depends heavily upon fresh and wastewater infrastructure.
The Cork County Development Plan is currently in a public consultation phase which ends at midnight on 1 July.
Speaking at a full County Council meeting, Cobh Cllr Anthony Barry (Fine Gael) said Irish Water has become the “new planning authority” in the county.
“If you look at a village like Carrignavar on the periphery of Cork city, they have just been told ‘that's it, no expansion for the county development plan, period’,” said the councillor.
He said he found it “scandalous and ridiculous” for a village to be unable to develop due to a lack of basic water infrastructure.
Responding to councillors, Kevin Morey, County Engineer, Water Services said his department had carried out an extensive review of water services infrastructure capacity in key towns and villages.
He confirmed that the review highlighted that there are deficits in water supply or wastewater treatment capacity which could impact the County Development Plan’s objectives.
“Irish Water are reviewing this information in the context of the preparation of their next Capital Investment Plan and are also assessing possible interim measures where required,” he said.
Mr Morey referred the issue to Irish Water earlier in the month and received a prompt response from Sean Laffey, Head of Asset Management, Irish Water.
Mr Laffey said: “We are continuing to engage with the CRU (Commission for Regulation of Utilities) on the final approval for our investment programme for Revenue Control 3. As soon as we have approval from the CRU, we will be in a position to release the full programme of works for Cork out to the end of 2024.”
However, West Cork Cllr Deirdre Kelly (Fianna Fáil) said Irish Water needs to be held to account in relation to their timelines and the delivery and definition of their projects before 1 July.
“Currently Irish Water seem happy to sit back and divert all issues pertaining to local development back to Cork County Council,” she said.
Following the current public consultation stage, members of Cork County Council will consider all submissions made to the County Development Plan and will publish the amended plan on 18 January 2022 with an aim to bring the plan into effect on 6 June 2022.
For more information and to make a submission, visit corkcoco.ie.
Billion euro investment
In a statement issued to the Cork Independent, a spokesperson for Irish Water said the building, repair and upgrading of Irish Water’s infrastructure will require a multi-billion euro investment programme over many years.
The spokesperson added that investment in water services infrastructure is ongoing in Cork with numerous water and wastewater projects in varying stages of development.
The spokesperson said: “Works have been prioritised to address the most critical issues in line with the Government’s Water Services Policy Statement and Irish Water’s Strategic Funding Plan.
“The current Capital Investment Programme (CIP) covers the period 2020-2024. In this period, Irish Water plans to invest €5.2 billion in drinking water and wastewater quality and capacity and new infrastructure.”
Irish Water, as a statutory consultee, will be making a submission to Cork County Council on its Draft County Development Plan and the submission will be made available for public viewing by Cork County Council.
Irish Water’s Draft Capital Investment Plan is subject to consultation and final determination by Irish Water’s regulator, the Commission of the Regulation of Utilities (CRU).
Following its completion and with the approval of the CRU, updated details of the planned investments in each county will be outlined.
Full details of projects currently underway in Cork can be found at water.ie/projects-plans.