Speaking in the Dáil this week local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten, stated that young people in South Roscommon are being forced to move away from the area due to the lack of wastewater treatment facilities in Monksland, Brideswell and Curraghboy.
“There is no point talking about planning for future housing needs in regional growth centres like Athlone, if we do not have the basic infrastructure in place.
“The government has designated Monksland, as well as the rest of Athlone, as a major growth centre that will see substantial growth in the years ahead.
“Monksland now requires a new network upgrade and a new treatment plant in order to cater for increased demand. However, the Roscommon side of the town cannot expand because we do not have those facilities. The two closest villages to Monksland - Brideswell and Curraghboy - do not have any wastewater treatment facilities and there are no plans to provide any.
“So where are the young people of South Roscommon going to live? Irish Water needs to publish a five-year sewerage plan for every single county across the country because that type of strategic plan is not there.”
“The reality is that local employment opportunities are being stalled as a result of the failure to upgrade and provide wastewater treatment facilities across our area. Our towns and villages need this investment in this necessary infrastructure to provide for clean water and wastewater treatment facilities to attract families to live, work and raise their children in these rural communities.
“The lack of this basic infrastructure is being compounded by measures within county development plans right across the country which effectively ban the construction of one-off rural housing. The new county development plans will prioritise cluster developments near existing settlements with wastewater treatment facilities. This will decimate existing communities where people cannot build on their own land and now cannot live in their own parish because they have no serviced lands.
“As a result, we are therefore saying to young people in South Roscommon that they must either live in the town of Ballinasloe or Athlone or migrate to Galway or Dublin. How is that going to solve the housing and congestion challenges we have in those cities when we cannot even provide young couples with serviced sites,” Deputy Naughten asserted.
Families set to pay subsidy for data centres
Meanwhile, Deputy Naughten has stated that Irish families are facing an additional bill of €123 a year just to subsidise the cost of electricity being supplied directly to data centres.
“While data centres can secure long term sustainable jobs in our economy, they must not be allowed to get electricity on the cheap and instead should pay the full cost of supplying them with renewable electricity.
“We have taken a strategic decision to ensure Ireland has become one of the key global centres for data storage. This has the potential to create and maintain long term high value jobs in the Irish economy.
“Jobs that can actually be physically located in the most isolated house in Ireland. And I fully support this strategy.
“But these data centres have significant demands for electricity and by 2030 70% of this will come from renewable sources at a cost estimate of over €9bn based on an Irish Academy of Engineering analysis.
“If this additional cost of data centres continues to be applied to all electricity customers, and if we use the Public Service Obligation distribution model across all customers, Irish families will pay an extra €123.37 p.a. just for the electricity going directly to data centres.”
“Research commissioned by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has shown that 43 percent of people reported experiencing at least one form of financial strain due to the Covid-19 pandemic - a quarter of them cut back on food or utilities, and 14 percent are behind with paying bills such as electricity.
“While I support strategic data centre development, we cannot have Irish families subsidising the cost of their electricity on top of the additional cost of green electricity being supplied directly to homes.
“This is a view supported by the Government with a decision taken in June 2018, set out in ‘Government Statement on the Role of Data Centres in Ireland’s Enterprise Policy’ to ensure that Irish families are not forced to subsidise the cost of data centre electricity supplies.
“However, this has yet to be implemented and must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” Deputy Naughten concluded.