Thursday, 25 February 2021
Topical Issue Debate
I was hoping for a commitment that this would be fast-tracked. It is a really important project. I understand that all the checks and balances have to be in place and that it is a very large project but, because of its importance, it would be really good to see it prioritised and for it to be ensured that it happens as quickly as possible. An indication of the timeline would also be really good. The proposal at the moment is for Irish Water to finish this project in 2024 or 2025 but there have been delays in the process all the way along. We want to prevent any further slippage and, rather than have slippage, for the whole thing to be expedited so that it can be done as quickly as possible. I know this requires ministerial consent but does it need to go to Cabinet? Is the project of such a significant size that it needs Cabinet approval? If that is the case, when does the Minister of State envisage it going to Cabinet?
Initially, it seemed funding of approximately €30 million was required but lately there have been reports that in excess of €100 million may be required. Is the Minister of State aware of any increase in costs and whether this could potentially impact on the delivery of this project because, to be honest, we cannot allow anything to impact this project? As I said, Arklow has waited for this for 20 years. The town cannot wait any longer. The river, biodiversity and the environment cannot wait any longer either. My fear is that, if progress slows any further, too much damage will be incurred.
Will the Government expedite and prioritise this project? Is the money available and can the Minister of State outline the timeline for completion?