A North Tipperary councillor this week made the claim that the proposed project to pump water from Lough Derg to Dublin is “a great threat” to this region.
Cllr Seamus Morris made his comments in a submission which he made to the “material amendments” to the draft Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES).
In his submission Cllr Morris said he is very conscious as a councillor of his role in the protection, conservation and enhancement of “our Natural Capital.”
In several parts of the RSES document the protection of the integrity of water-dependent habitats and species within the Natura 2000 network is mentioned in terms of the sustainability of infrastructure-led growth of the region. The Councillor said he fully agrees with this approach because the protection of Lough Derg’s environmental integrity “is vital to the region. It’s vital because it’s a no-brainer that we should be sustaining the ecological structure of the region, but it’s also vital from an economical point of view.”
The councillor was critical of some of the terminology surrounding the proposed pipe project. “The notion of calling the Water supply project for the Midlands and Eastern region a ‘significant water services infrastructure project required for the Southern region area’ is completely disingenuous. In fact, the pumping of 330 million litres of treated water through some of the best agricultural land (destroying many fine agribusinesses) in the region will give a hugely competitive advantage to the Dublin region which will be a completely opposite outcome to the stated policy of spatially balancing the country.” He said the aim to spatially balance the country is the policy envisaged in the National Planning framework.
The councillor added that piping 330 million litres of water from Lough Derg has the potential to destroy the eco-balance of the region. He said it must also be noted that it is completely against the wishes of the Councillors of North Tipperary, Limerick and Clare. He said it is also completely against the wishes of all water-based groups in the region.
“It is very disappointing that the Environmental Assessment Report carried out by RPS for the Draft Regional Spatial Economic Strategy for the southern region does not even mention the Water Supply project, never mind assess the undoubted environmental and economic damage it will do to the region if allowed to go ahead. It must be also noted that the ESB had to shut down its generation of power for 14 weeks recently due to a lack of water.
“It is important to note as well that the amount of water being treated and pumped to Dublin is about the same amount being lost in leaks in Dublin.
“Also the Name being used for the project is disingenuous as 99% of the water is for the Dublin region.
“The profligate waste of the overrun in the National Children’s Hospital is already impacting on projects in the Southern region that are identified as important for our progress, therefore the fact that the Water Supply Project has real potential to become a National Children’s Hospital 2 is very important to take on board. Already the potential cost of the project has doubled from 700 million to 1.4 billion, which, if the project goes ahead, will undoubtedly put pressure on other necessary water infrastructure projects for the region.
“A region obviously cannot sustain itself without water and the River Shannon and Lough Derg system has provided the Southern region with the ability to sustain life since time began.
“A predatory move like the Water supply project for the Midlands and Eastern region should be discouraged, particularly when that region has an abundance of water but a very severe leakage problem which would be prudent to address instead of pumping 330 million litres of expensively treated water into pipes that have a leakage rate of over 50%. It cannot be overstated that the Water supply project for the Midlands and Eastern region is the greatest environmental and economic threat to the Southern region ever considered and it must be treated as such and any support of it in the RSES document must be withdrawn if there is to be a proper spatial strategy in the country.”