Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has welcomed the overwhelming response from residents and local property owners who’ve expressed interest in participating in the demonstration project which is soon to be rolled out as part of the development of the long-awaited Gaoth Dobhair sewerage scheme.
The news was confirmed to Deputy Pearse Doherty following a recent meeting with Irish Water over the weekend, during which it was revealed that a total of 38 properties on Gaoth Dobhair’s Factory Road have signed up to be part of the initial pilot phase of the scheme.
Deputy Doherty has also welcomed confirmation from the utility that it has agreed to his proposals to waive the previously proposed connection fee for all those participating in the pilot project, while it now also appears likely that the company intends to extend the coverage area for the scheme once fully operational in order to include an additional number of properties.
Commenting on the breakthrough, Deputy Doherty said:
“Following a very constructive and positive meeting with a senior executive from Irish Water over the weekend, I’m delighted to have had it confirmed that there has been an overwhelming response from local residents and property owners in the area who’ve expressed an interest in being part of the pilot phase of the Gaoth Dobhair sewerage scheme project.
“I understand that 38 individual properties have now formally signed up to be connected to the prototype system which is a pumped pressurized system, and which is the same type of technology that is being planned for the Gaoth Dobhair sewerage scheme once it is constructed and fully operational.
“Irish Water has stated that it has been very pleased with the high level of participation in the area and with the co-operation it has received to date from local residents in relation to the demo system.
“The company is now currently in the process of carrying out an assessment and survey of the lands which will be involved as part of this pilot project, and this will allow it to better understand the individual connection needs of the various properties located within the test area on the Factory Road.
“This work is expected to be completed by Christmas, and while this assessment work is currently being carried out, I understand that a huge amount of preparatory work is now ongoing relating to procurement and contracts for the scheme.
“I’ve been informed that the utility hopes to appoint a contractor to the scheme sometime in the New Year, with the demonstration project likely to proceed to construction phase shortly thereafter with an estimated timeframe for the end of the first quarter of 2018.
“Once installed, the pilot scheme will be closely monitored for a period of around one year, during which any potential issues or teething problems that may arise can be easily ironed out and resolved, with the hope being that this demonstration will encourage additional properties to sign up to the full scheme once its operational.
“While these timelines remain flexible, this is of course a major breakthrough and a very welcome development in what has been a very long and arduous campaign to get this badly needed scheme for Gaoth Dobhair developed.
“I’ve also had it confirmed by Irish Water over the weekend that, following my recommendation that no connection fees be levied on residents who’ve signed up to the scheme, the connection fee for all those participating in the pilot scheme will now be waived, while the possibility of this also being done for the full scheme also being actively considered by the company.
“Irish Water is also examining the possibility of extending the coverage area which is to be served by the full system once it’s constructed and fully operational here in Gaoth Dobhair, and this will allow for a number of additional properties to benefit from the new system once Live.
“As everyone is well aware, this progress has not come about by chance or mere coincidence but rather it follows the decision by the EU Commission to initiate infringement proceedings against the state over its failure to deliver the scheme, a determination which was made as a result of the report submitted to it by my colleague MEP Matt Carthy and I back in May 2015.
“It was in this document that we argued that the state’s failure to develop a dedicated waste water collection network for Gaoth Dobhair meant that the Irish authorities were in breach of their obligations under the EU Urban Waste Water Directive, and thus were in violation of EU law.
“As we know, the Commission agreed with our findings and the Commission’s threat of legal action has forced authorities here to act, the results of which we are now finally seeing with this confirmation that I’ve received this week.
“While it’s regrettable that it took the threat of EU litigation to spur the Government to finally take the necessary action and to develop this scheme, I have to say that I am thrilled and heartened by this news that the construction of the pilot scheme will likely begin early next year.
“Understandably, I want to take this opportunity to once again commend and thank the people of Gaoth Dobhair for their engagement and participate throughout the entire consultation and planning phases over recent months, but also for their tremendous patience over the past forty plus years in which they’ve waited to have this scheme developed.
“I now look forward to seeing this impressive project progress even further over the next number of months, and I will continue to work closely with local residents and business owners to ensure that this scheme is finally delivered for the people of Gaoth Dobhair.”Tags: