Tuesday, 12 February 2013
Water and Sewerage Schemes
I am absolutely delighted the Minister is present to deal personally with this issue and did not send anybody else to take his place. I know I have him plagued about the saga of the Kilcummin sewerage scheme as I raise it with him on the corridors and everywhere I meet him. This is a very important issue.
Kilcummin is located just outside Killarney and the saga of the provision of the sewerage scheme is a long and sorry story. In 2007, the proposed sewerage scheme for Kilcummin was given the green light and funding was provided in conjunction with the Barraduff sewerage scheme. Tenders were issued and the contractor was selected to carry out the works. Work started on the Barraduff scheme first. Along the way problems developed with the contractor which resulted in the Kilcummin part of the scheme being pulled. This was the start of the problem for the people of Kilcummin. Nobody knows what happened to the funding that was provided for the Kilcummin scheme. We cannot get a straight answer to that question in County Kerry. We do not know whether the funds were returned to the Department. All we know is that six years later, Kilcummin has no sewerage scheme.
For the information of members, Kilcummin is the largest parish in Ireland and that is one reason for it having proper facilities to deal with sewerage. I will outline other reasons for my belief that funding for the Kilcummin sewerage scheme is necessary. Probably the most important one is that Kilcummin is in the catchment area of Lough Leane and this scheme was listed as a priority in a campaign to tackle pollution in Lough Leane. Lough Leane is one of the major tourist attractions in Kerry and, as the Minister will appreciate, Killarney is renowned for the beauty of its lakes. A number of businesses in Kilcummin pay significant rates to the local authority. One business alone pays more than ¤10,000 in rates every year. There is a well established nursing home in Kilcummin. In 2006, when the current owners took over the nursing home as a going concern, they were advised by the planners in Kerry County Council that a sewerage scheme would be provided. Since 2006, they have increased their workforce from 26 to 91 staff and they are ready to open a further 16 to 20 beds in the facility and take on another 40 members of staff. Kerry County Council, however, will not entertain the company providing a further expansion of beds until such time as it upgrades its sewerage scheme. This has been costed at ¤100,000 and it simply does not have that money. The lack of a sewerage scheme is hindering job creation. There is planning permission for a number of houses, subject to the provision of a sewerage scheme, and many people must look for an extension of their permission as the current permission is due to expire. As Members will know, extension of planning permission is for a limited period.
I understand that everything is in order for the Kilcummin sewerage scheme to proceed at Kerry County Council but it must await the approval of funding by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. I hope the Minister has come into the Seanad with good news for me to take back to the people of Kilcummin.