Ballykeeran Residents Association have issued a strongly worded submission to Westmeath County Council in which they vehemently reject plans by Irish Water to install raw water intake works and a wastewater treatment plant within the environs of the Portaneena amenity area.
Responding to the Irish Water planning application, the Residents’ Association have detailed their concerns that such a development would cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem of the inner lakes and to the natural habitat within, in the process turning a unique scenic area, boasting immense tourist potential, into an industrial zone.
Hoping to work in conjunction with Westmeath County Council in this regard, the Residents’ Association state that they have no issue with the abstraction of water from the River Shannon for the public good and wish to see the planned development relocated to the higher lake for environmental purposes.
“It must be made clear that our Residents’ Association has no issue with the abstraction of water from the Shannon for the public good rather our issue is with the lake shore location of the intake works and water treatment plant, the simple reason being that the water in the inner lakes is sedentary or static as it only turns over its contents every two and a half years, whereas the high lake flushes its water every month as part of the river,” Michael Hickey, Chairman of the Residents’ Association emphasised.
The planned development, should it materialise at the proposed site at Portaneena, will incorporate structures ranging from three to nine metres in height and when completed will, as per the submission, effectively seal off entry to the narrow amenity area and as a consequence any public access to the inner lakes. The lake shore amenity area is almost exclusively used by the public for family picnics during the summer months and lakeshore nature walks all year round.
Noting that Irish Water has put financial gain ahead of ecological thoughts, the submission to the local authority states that the national water utility, in selecting the contentious site, has adopted a strict engineering approach to the detriment of environment and amenities in the immediate Portaneena area.
“Irish Water’s sole objective appears to be save money on pipe length for short term financial benefit with long term environmental damage. This damage will not become apparent until the next generation. Most certainly, there will be accumulation of impurities over time and at that stage it will be too late as it will have done irreparable damage to the lake.
Why would Irish Water want to put a ten acre industrial development in the middle of one of the most scenic areas in Ireland?,” Mr. Hickey commented.
A protest is to take place on Saturday, January 12, at 2pm, with members of the community urged to show in large numbers at the amenity and express their opposition to the proposed development.