The long awaited construction of a wastewater treatment plant and wastewater pumping station in Belmullet moved a step closer this week with the approval of the Part 8 planning by the members of the Belmullet Electoral Area Committee. The planning for this scheme has gone as far back as 1994 and it has taken this long to come to the planning stage. The existing wastewater collection network in the area dates back to 1957 and is currently discharging untreated waste into both Blacksod Bay and Broadhaven Bay.
At Wednesday’s meeting, senior executive engineer for Mayo County Council, Noel Burke, informed the members that the council received 25 submissions from 53 individuals and all of the issues had been dealt with in a report by senior planner for Mayo County Council, Iain Douglas. Cllr Rose Conway Walsh asked if all those who made various submissions on the plan had been corresponded with by the council in relation to the issues they raised. Mr Burke informed her that they had not as of yet, as it was for the members to accept or reject the report on the submissions before any correspondence would happen.
Cllr Conway Walsh replied: “Nobody is against this piece of infrastructure, it’s been a priority for me since I first got elected as it has for everybody else here. And we certainly don’t want to let the Government off the hook for funding they have put forward for it. But I didn’t agree with the location in 2004 and I still don’t but I can’t do anything about that now.”
Cllr Gerry Coyle told the meeting: “The people aren’t happy for two reasons from what I can see. One is lack of consultation and the other is that some areas won’t be connected to it despite it passing close by. But despite the various issues, it’s a sewerage scheme for the whole of Belmullet, that’s very simple.”
The new treatment plant will be constructed in the townland of Corclogh and pumping stations will be constructed at the Quay, Belmullet, and at the junction of the Blacksod Road and Burma Road, Belmullet. In dealing with the submissions on the location of the plant in his report Mr Douglas said: “The closest property to the wastewater treatment plant is a residence which is 220m from the northern boundary.” He also responded that two schools which were mentioned in the submission are 800m from the proposed plant and each of them currently has its own waste water treatment plants in much closer proximity. He said that the standard setback from a wastewater treatment plant was 100m, but could be shorter in built up urban areas, while the setback from this proposed development was 220m, more than twice the standard.
When asked what would be the best case scenario time period for seeing work commence on this project, Mr Burke told the meeting that if everything moved as well as it could, it would be in the region of three years. He also pointed out that it was a €5 million project as part of a bundle with similar ones in Foxford and Charlestown, and the council would have to come up with more than €1 million to fund its own polluter pays principle obligations for the project.