OFFALY demand for sewerage capacity in Portarlington could stop Laois people living in their home villages, a county councillor warned last week.
Laois County Council is awaiting the green light from An Bord Pleanala to move ahead with a new treatment works earmarked for the Lea Road near Port. The treatment works is due to serve both Laois and Offaly areas of Port as well as Killenard
The plant and sewerage network would cost €6 million although the Department of the Environment has not cleared the cash project.
But Cllr James Deegan believes that Laois could lose out to Offaly. He asked council officials last week if Emo could be connected to works because he feared “our friends across the border” would have their “beady eyes” on any spare capacity
Cllr Deegan said there would be a limit on the plant, but believed it was important that the Laois village would be included in the upgrade. He said once capacity was reached there would be no development in Port or nearby villages.
However, Cllr Ray Cribbin said it was a “rash statement” to say that development could cease. However, Cllr Deegan insisted that the Enviornmental Protection Agency would no longer allow sewerage capacities to be breached.
“People in Offaly are also looking at the capacity and they are looking to be the first in the queue. Septic tanks are a problem in Emo and it is an area that should have got a connection in the boom,” he said.
Cllr Deegan said Emo electoral area which included Emo, Stradbally and Timahoe has the greatest number of refusals for one off housing because there is already a high density. “People should be allowed to live in their own place,” he said.
Cllr Paul Mitchell agreed and said the one off housing was the only thing that is keeping builders in work. Cllr Tom Mulhall supported Cllr Deegan and said Ballybrittas should be catered for. He said a private pumping station that would connect Emo had been turned down during the boom.
Emo has not been factored into the council’s plan, nor have Offaly villages. Acting Director of Services Kieran Kehoe told councillors that with nearly 10,000, Port was now the second fastest growing town in Ireland and was bigger than Longford.
The current treatment works is near capacity. The plant can cater for a population of 13,000 and is processing waste from a population equivalent of 12,100. Business are given bigger capacities.
Mr Philip McVeigh, senior engineer, said the plant would be upgraded in two stages so the it could end up catering for 20,000 people. The plant was upgraded two years ago when equipment from Portlaoise old plant became available.