Irish Water’s proposed works on the Vartry reservoir should not go ahead until a full environmental impact assessment is undertaken, Social Democrats’ Wicklow County Councillor Jennifer Whitmore said today.
Cllr Whitmore was commenting ahead of An Bord Pleanála’s oral hearing into the planned €200m scheme which opens tomorrow [Monday 12th June 2017] in the Glenview Hotel, Co Wicklow, and is scheduled to run for three days.
Cllr Whitmore, who has a background in fisheries science and environmental law, said:
“Irish Water is planning to carry out major works on the water treatment plant, but so far it has not given nearly enough information to the public about the nature, size and potential impact of its plan on the local environment and ecology.
“The Vartry reservoir supplies essential drinking water to residents in Dublin and Wicklow, but it also feeds into the Vartry River which runs from Roundwood to Wicklow town and is a very valued amenity for fishing, tourism and recreation.
“Irish Water’s proposed works will reduce flows of water from the reservoir into the Vartry River. The Vartry is a very important river for all of Wicklow, and in particular Ashford. It provides enormous amenity value to the area and adds greatly to the local economy. I am deeply concerned that if these flows are substantially cut it would reduce fish stocks, upset the balance of the eco-system and damage tourist amenities which are based around the river and are part of Wicklow’s appeal as a garden county.
Cllr Whitmore added: “Before An Bord Pleanála gives this project the green light, it needs to ensure that a thorough environmental impact assessment is conducted to calculate any potential impact this scheme will have downstream.
“I believe that we can find a way to allow the planned works to proceed while also protecting the river. Key to this will be putting in place a monitoring and assessment programme to collect data on flows and the ecology, so a full understanding of the impacts of flow reductions can be understood. Unfortunately, Irish Water has shown no interest in doing this, and this is a cause of great concern for local businesses and residents.”
11 June 2017