Planning permission is being sought for the construction of a new Mountbellew wastewater treatment plant to replace the one currently next to the Castlegar River, which is proving highly contentious.
The plans are being heavily contested by the Mountbellew Regional Co-Op Livestock Mart, who accuse Irish Water of dealing dishonestly with them over the chosen site for the WWTP.
Irish Water is seeking a 10 year grant of permission for upgrades to the wastewater treatment infrastructure at Mountbellew, by building a new WWTP on land next to Mountbellew Mart.
The new treatment plant will consist of two Primary Settlement Tanks, two Trickling Filters, Two Final Settlement Tanks, and Sludge Drying Reed Beds which will cover and area of 868sqm.
The project will also involve the construction of a control building, installation of flow metering at various locations on site, and other works.
The existing wastewater treatment plant at the Castlegar River will be decommissioned as part of these upgrade works.
A pumping station will be installed at the site of the current wastewater treatment plant, to deliver untreated sewage to the new plant.
A rising main will be installed between the pumping station and the new treatment plant, and a gravity outflow pipe to carry treated sewage back to the pumping station.
“The existing WWTP, built in the 1960s, is overloaded and incapable of consistently producing a final effluent in accordance with the required discharge standards,” a planning report said of the need for a new plant.
It was also noted that the sited flooded on several occasions, most notably in 2009 and 2015, and is not suitable to keep using as a WWTP.
It’s estimated that construction will take approximately one year in total to complete according to a construction management plan submitted with the application.
“The exact order and programme of works can only be determined by the Contractor following appointment,” the CMP states.
“It will however be an objective and a requirement of the Contractor to minimise disruption to traffic, businesses, and properties within the village.”
A Flood Risk Assessment, Natura Impact Statement, and Ecological Impact Assessment reports were submitted with application.
The chosen site for the new plant is above the recorded flood level of the Castlegar River according to the Flood Risk Assessment.
There was one public submission received by Galway County Council concerning this project, from the Mountbellew Regional Co-Op Livestock Mart.
The Mart wishes for the county council to refuse permission for the plant, saying that Irish Water has refused to recognise their concerns about the impact having a WWTP next food could have on their business.
Issues raised by the Mart include potential noise pollution and the impact the WWTP could have on livestock, as well as the potential for the plant to limit future expansion plans for the Mart.
“Concerns as to whether a buffer zone will be implemented and whether Irish Water will object to any future applications for planning by Mountbellew Mart should they wish to expand their premises have been ignored.”
The Mart also accuses Irish Water of having had a “completely bogus process” for identifying and selecting a site.
“Each of the four sites selected (the mart being the fifth) were chosen, not for their suitability for a WWTP, but rather to align with a fictional process of elimination, to justify choosing the mart site.”
As to purchasing the site itself, the Mart claims that Irish Water “unilaterally” broke off negotiations, and said that their final offer was rejected. But this objections states that no offer of compensation was ever made in writing to them.
Irish Water eventually used a Compulsory Purchase Order to acquire the land, which was upheld by An Bord Pleanála last year after an appeal by the Co-Op Mart.
Mountbellew is identified as priority area for improvements to the sewerage system, with discharge into the Castlegar river consistently receiving a “Poor” rating.
Galway County Council is due to decide whether to grant planning permission for this treatment plant upgrade by September 29.