Thursday, 25 February 2021
Topical Issue Debate
I want to talk to the Minister of State about the wastewater treatment plant in Arklow. This is absolutely critical infrastructure not only for Arklow and County Wicklow, but for the country. As the Minister of State will be aware, the Avoca river has significant issues with pollution as a result of mismanagement and a lack of infrastructure within the Arklow area. This project has been in planning for years and years. Residents have been waiting for it and are very eager to see progress being made. Businesses are also waiting for something to happen. The whole town is waiting for this project to get moving.
Irish Water has been working on it and the plans are in place but it is now sitting on the Minister's desk. In late 2020, the proposal was submitted to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage. It is now awaiting ministerial consent. It is important that this project be developed as quickly as possible. Arklow has great potential but this potential is being restricted by the fact that this infrastructure is not in place. I refer to potential from a tourism perspective, a business and economic perspective and a housing perspective. Arklow is really on hiatus waiting for this project to happen. From an environmental perspective, fines are potentially coming down the road if this work is not done.
My question is very simple. What progress is being made in respect of the wastewater treatment plant? Will the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage expedite this matter because, as I have said, it has been on his desk since late 2020, three months ago? This is an important project and we need to focus on it. My third question relates to funding. I want to make sure that funding is in place and that this project can start as quickly as possible because the contract cannot be allocated until this funding is signed off on.