Approval for Spiddal wastewater plant upheld

Galway daily news

An Bord Pleanála has upheld a decision to grant planning permission for a new wastewater treatment plant in Spiddal over local objections.

Galway city council granted planning permission last October for the controversial project that will see the existing wastewater treatment plant in Spiddal decommissioned a modern one built to replace it.

The site is on land operated by Údarás na  Gaeltachta to the north east of Scoil Éinne, and adjacent to Spiddal Craft Village and Cuan Studio.

The plant will include new inlet works, one primary settlement tank, four rotating biological collectors, a final settlement tank and sludge storage tank and associated pipework connecting them.

The treated wastewater will discharge into Galway Bay, while the sludge removed from the water will be kept in a storage tank for 14 days before being removed and reused as fertiliser.

The stated reason for the construction of the new plant is to end the dumping of untreated sewage into Galway Bay.

Irish Water has said that 600 wheelie bins worth of sewage is discharged into the bay every day, something which has attracted the condemnation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

However this project hasn’t been without contention. While submissions to the county council were broadly supportive of the project, the were serious concerns about the plant’s proximity to Scoil Éinne and people’s homes.

Two appeals were made to An Bord Pleanála against the county council’s decision on the grounds that, going by EPA guidelines, the wastewater treatment plant was located too close to homes.

According to the appellants this could have negative health and environmental impacts for people living in the area. It was also added that this could block any attempts to expand Scoil Éinne in the future.

An inspectors report noted that while the sludge storage tank is located within the 50m buffer zone required with Scoil Éinne, with proper coverage and other odour controls it would not prove a nuisance.

Approval was upheld with eight conditions attached, including a stipulation that trees must be planted around the perimeter of the plant, and that odour levels must be kept within a level that will not “give rise to any odour nuisance to sensitive receptors”.

An Bord Pleanála said that so long as the development complies with those conditions it would “not give rise to any material impact on the amenities of the area or property in the vicinity and would be acceptable in terms of pedestrian and traffic safety”.