Thursday, 25 February 2010
Water and Sewerage Schemes
Tony Killeen (Minister of State with special responsibility for Forestry, Fisheries and the Marine, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Clare, Fianna Fail)
As the Senator may be aware, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government recently advised both Houses that he will soon publish a new water services investment programme. This programme, which will cover the period 2010 to 2012, will set out the water services contracts that are likely to proceed to construction in the next three years and the schemes for which planning will continue during this period.
The Moville and Greencastle sewerage scheme has been in planning for some considerable time, as stated by Senator Keaveney. I remember her raising the issue when I was a Minister of State in that Department. Funding has been provided by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for this planning work. I understand that Donegal County Council has completed a preliminary report for the scheme, but an EIS must also to be prepared, as the Senator stated. The EIS was submitted by the council to An Bord Pleanála, where such statements are assessed, and no decision has yet been made by the board. When the certification process is completed, I expect the council will immediately submit the preliminary report and relevant documentation to the Department for consideration.
There were no proposals to provide a new sewerage scheme to serve Newtowncunningham in the Department's water services investment programme for 2007 to 2009, on the basis that it was not of sufficiently high priority within the schemes required in the county. The priority to be accorded to schemes in County Donegal is a matter in the first instance for Donegal County Council. Local authorities were asked to submit assessments of needs for water and sewerage services in their areas to the Department by 23 October 2009. The Department is now finalising the consideration of these assessments, which will form a key input to the development of the 2010 to 2012 water services investment programme. In conducting their assessments, local authorities were asked to prioritise schemes and contracts for progression over the coming years based on key environmental and economic criteria.
With the changed economic climate and the completion of the first cycle of river basin management plans by local authorities in the near future, there is a greater need than ever to focus strategic environmental and economic objectives. The 2010 to 2012 programme will do this by prioritising projects that target public health and environmental compliance issues, support economic and employment growth and offer best value for money.
As I have already indicated, the Minister expects to publish the 2010 to 2012 programme shortly and his Department will work closely with Donegal County Council to advance priority schemes identified in the programme.