Government flouting of EU water treatment rules causing huge concerns – Matt Carthy MEP
The Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has called for urgent action to treat water in the towns identified by ongoing case against Ireland in the European Court of Justice.
The towns at the centre of the court case for failure to treat urban waste water are: Arklow, Athlone, Ballybofer/Stranorlar, Cavan, Clifden, Cobh, Cork City, Dundalk, Enfield, Enniscorthy, Fermoy, Killarney, Killybegs, Longford, Mallow, Midleton, Navan, Nenagh, Oberstown, Passage/Monktown, Portarlington, Rathcormac, Ringaskiddy, Ringsend, Roscommon Town, Roscrea, Shannon Town, Thurles, Tralee, Tubbercurry and Youghal. MEP Carthy also said that several smaller catchments are affected by a lack of Waste-Water treatment provision.
The Sinn Féin representative said:
“For several months I have been calling on the Government to take urgent action to treat sewerage entering Clew Bay at Newport Co. Mayo.
“In 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency stated that waste water treatment facilities must be put in place in Newport by December 2018 in order to treat sewerage flowing into the sea. These plans have been repeatedly delayed and it now appears that the required infrastructure won’t be in place until at least 2023.
“This is wholly inadequate for both communities living in the area, for the impact on shellfish in Clew Bay, and for environmental reasons given that Clew Bay is designated as a Special Area of Conservation.
“I wrote to the European Commission over the summer raising this issue and querying whether the failure to put in place the necessary treatment facilities was breaching the Urban Waste Water Directive.
“While the Commission has withheld commenting on the specific case at Newport, the response I have received this week confirms that in fact the Government is failing to uphold this piece of legislation on a much larger scale. The Commission has informed me that it has referred Ireland to the European Court of Justice on more than 50 counts for failing to meet the environmental standards set by the Directive.
“The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive from 2001 requires the Government to collect and treat waste water from areas where populations or economic activities are sufficiently concentrated. However, as the population equivalent of Newport Co. Mayo is does not meet the threshold of 2000, the European Commission claims it does not have the necessary information to make an assessment.
“In some cases, the Government has failed to meet deadlines from as far back as 1998 concerning the treatment of water. Towns, homes and businesses in places such as Tubbercurry in Co. Sligo, where a boil water notice has been in place since February of this year, are suffering.
“It is wholly inadequate that the Government would flout rules like this when public health and safety are at stake.
“I will be again writing to the Minister to demand an immediate update on the timelines to deliver the necessary infrastructure in these areas as well as continuing to engage with the Commission on this issue”.