it could be up to ten years before the proposed €470million euro eco-water park and reservoir is operational, members of a joint Oireachtas committee on the environment were informed during a visit to the proposed site at Garryhinch Bog, last week.
The Bord na Mona project, which has been in the planning for the last ten years, has the potential to create 1,000 construction jobs over three years and could employ upto 150 people once the leisure facilities are opened to the public.
Plans to ease the pressure on Dublin’s water supply have been in the offing since 1996, but Bord na Móna’s preferred option now involves bringing water from Lough Derg in Tipperary to the bog at Garryhinch, and supplying it as required to its market.
The project is still at the pre-planning stage and must proceed through planning before the Department of Environment, Heritage and local Government decides how it will be delivered.
“The members visit was very positive and very informative. We took them to Lough Boora in Offaly where they could see what we were envisioned, but on a much smaller scale,” Colm O Gógáin, director of strategic infrastructure with Bord na Mona explained.
“We would hope to submit a planning application in late 2012/early 2013. We have to go through a rigorous environmental assessment, which will take almost 12 months, as you have to cover all seasonality of the wildlife on the bog. We will also be engaging with relevant organisations and the local community to hear their views.”
One point of concern about the project is the road network leading to the site, which is to be developed.
”Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee, Ciaran Lynch TD, said the resevoir had the potential to create a water supply for the Dublin region for the next 40-50 years.
Labour Senator John Whelan said the site was perfect for Bord na Móna’s proposal.
“Today was an opportunity for the members to come down and visit the site, see its suitability, the type of terrain and also its important in this case that its not proximate to built up areas. Because they have the space, it doesn’t encroach on the town or other domestic dwellings. This site is literally perfect for the proposals being put forward,” he said..
While supporting the project, Deputy Brian Stanley, who visited Garryhinch last Wednesday, said all the facts needed to be examined.
“All of the facts with regard to the proposed reservoir at Garryhinch need to be evaluated prior to any decision being made. So far the debate has been dominated by much headline grabbing from those on both sides without the full picture being available, and this can lead to ill informed and premature comment.”
The Sinn Fein TD said he has a particular interest in this project and he will give it careful consideration, as it has major job creation potential in the areas of both tourism and construction.
As part of a consultation process with all interested parties, Deputy Stanley will also be proposing a meeting in the Dáil with the Shannon Protection Alliance to give them the opportunity to state their case to the Oireachtas Committee.