Public participation has been an integral part of the Water Supply Project, Eastern and Midlands Region’s development since the project began.
Over 1,000 stakeholders participated in the last consultation stage on the preferred scheme, which ran for fourteen weeks from 8 November 2016 to 14 February 2017.
Irish Water has sought, listened to and responded to public feedback at every stage of the WSP’s development, from assessing the need right through to identifying the preferred scheme. We have highlighted this in our reports, which show where public feedback has directly influenced the project.
In line with Article 6(3) of the Aarhus Convention, Irish Water prepared and consulted on, a Project Consultation Roadmap, that set out four key stages of non-statutory public consultation and various on-the-ground investigations that would be undertaken in the development of a planning application for a new water supply scheme for the Eastern and Midlands Region. Each consultation allowed for relevant feedback to be incorporated into the development of the preferred new water supply. Each stage is outlined in more detail below.
Consultation Phase One – Project Need Report
An eight-week public consultation on the Project Need Report (PNR) and Project Consultation Roadmap was held between March and May 2015. The PNR draws on extensive independent expert research and recommendations in relation to population projections and economic forecasting (2015 – 2050) and it concludes definitively that a new water supply source is needed for Irish Water’s Eastern & Midlands Region.
The Consultation Submissions Report for the PNR can be viewed here.
Consultation Phase Two – Options Working Paper
An eight-week public consultation on the Options Working Paper (OWP) was held between June and September 2015. The OWP contained an independent review of all previous studies undertaken on providing a new source of water supply for Dublin and the Eastern and Midlands Region. It concluded that the four technically viable options which emerged from a Strategic Environmental Assessment process remained appropriate and should be brought forward into the planning and and EIA/AA processes. It also concluded that all four options should be considered on an equal footing pending further detailed investigations. It outlined the assessment criteria for options appraisal, and the proposed approach to positioning infrastructure to achieve least environmental impact, through the use of constraint mapping.
The Consultation Submissions Report for the OWP can be viewed here.
Consultation Phase Three – Preliminary Options Appraisal Report (POAR)
A ten-week public consultation on the POAR was held between November 2015 and February 2016. The POAR set out the detail of the assessment process for the four technically viable options. The report concluded, after undertaking ‘on-the-ground investigations’, abstraction modelling simulations and analysis of stakeholder feedback, that the two options located on the North East of Lough Derg were unsuitable, primarily for environmental reasons. The two options which remained technically viable were desalination (from the Irish Sea) and the abstraction of water from the lower Shannon at Parteen Basin in County Tipperary. Of these two, the Report identified abstraction from the River Shannon at Parteen Basin as the “emerging preferred option”, from an environmental, technical and economical point of view.
The Consultation Submissions Report for the POAR can be viewed here.
Consultation Phase Four – Final Options Appraisal Report
A fourteen-week public consultation on the Final Options Appraisal Report (FOAR) and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Scoping Report was held between November 2016 and February 2017. Through further studies and assessments in relation to the emerging preferred option and desalination, a preferred scheme was presented in the FOAR.
The FOAR confirmed that the preferred scheme for a new water supply was abstraction of water from the Lower Shannon at Parteen Basin, water treatment nearby at Birdhill and treated water piped to a termination point reservoir in Peamount, Co. Dublin, with supplies of treated water available to Midland communities along the route.
Scoping is a process of determining what information should be included in the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR), previously referred to as EIS under the EIA Directive 2011/92/EU. The current EIA Directive 2014/52/EU now refers to an EIAR.
All feedback received by the project team as part of this fourth, non-statutory period of consultation on the WSP was acknowledged and recorded and is documented in the Consultation Submissions Report.
The Consultation Submissions Report for the FOAR and EIS Scoping Report can be viewed here.