Galway County Council has given its approval to plans for the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant in Mountbellew.
Irish Water has been granted planning permission to decommission the existing wastewater treatment plant for the Mountbellew area, demolishing the existing tanks, biological filters and control building.
A new treatment plant is to be built at the northern end of Mountbellew town, located on lands adjacent to the Mountbellew Mart.
The old treatment plant will be converted into a pumping station, bringing 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.
Planning permission was granted by Galway County Council for the project with eight standard conditions attached.
The project has been heavily opposed by Mountbellew Mart, who have accused Irish Water of dishonesty in its dealings with them regarding the acquisition of the land for the WWTP.
Irish Water acquired the land via Compulsory Purchase Order, which was upheld by An Bord Pleanála in 2019, after saying that negotiations with the Mart had collapsed and their offer for the land had been rejected.
In an objection to the planning application for the treatment plant, the Mart disputed this version of events, saying that no final offer was ever made to them in writing.
It was further claimed that Irish Water had ignored their concerns about the impact that this development could have on the local community in terms of noise pollution, as well as specific concerns related to their business.
The Mart said that the noise from the WWTP could have an impact on the livestock being sold their, and that its presence could limit future expansion plans.
“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.”
A charge was also levied against Irish Water that the site selection process which resulted in this location being chosen was “completely bogus” and “fictional” to justify choosing the location next to the Mart.
Last September the county council made a request for further information based on the Natura Impact Statement submitted with the application, seeking more specific environmental impact mitigation measures.
The council was particularly concerned about preventing fuels, building materials, and soils from entering the River Suck. An otter survey for the Castlegar River, with potential impacts from the construction, was also to be carried out.
A revised Natura Impact Statement was submitted by Irish Water in response to that request on March 12.
The new wastewater treatment plant is needed both to cater for the immediate and long term expansion of Mountbellew, and to comply with environmental standards.
The current plant discharges into Castleger River and, despite being upgraded in 2007, is not consistently capable of producing a discharge which complies with environmental regulations.
Irish Water also noted that the site has flooded on multiple occasions, most notably in 2009 and 2015, and is no longer fit for its current purpose.