Shannon Pipeline Project ‘absolutely has to happen’

The Shannon Pipeline Project – which aims to pipe water from the River Shannon to a reservoir in south Co. Dublin – “absolutely has to happen“, according to the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy.

The minister made the comment as he spoke with Mary Wilson on RTE Radio 1’s Drivetime show yesterday evening (Wednesday, July 11).

Water supplies in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) have been the focus of a considerable amount of discussion of late, given the drought conditions being experienced across the country.

Commenting on the development of the pipeline project, Minister Murphy said: “It has to happen; it is absolutely essential – for not just Dublin, but the counties surrounding Dublin as well – that another source of water is found.

Because, as you have been hearing, Dublin exists on a knife edge; Dublin is only going to grow in terms of population, as are the counties around it – so it needs another water supply and the Shannon water supply is the best way to do that.

“I am aware of the concerns that people have for different reasons – be it in relation to fisheries, be it in relation to the impact it might have on the River Shannon itself or the implications for landowners as well,” he said.

What does the project entail?

The project will involve the abstraction of water from the lower River Shannon at Parteen Basin in Co. Tipperary, with water treatment nearby at Birdhill.

Treated water would then be piped 170km to a termination point reservoir at Peamount in Co. Dublin; this would then connect into the greater Dublin network.

Communities in north Tipperary, Offaly, Laois, Westmeath, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow will also benefit from the project – with possible future off-shoots from the pipe that will enable the development of extra homes and businesses and increase the potential for inward investment, according to Irish Water.

Irish Water
Image source: Irish Water

Opposition

However, there is significant opposition to the project – which is set to affect 500 landowners.

As well as this, people against the project are calling on Irish Water to fix the leaks in the GDA network – which, they say, currently stands at around 57%.

Minister Murphy admitted that there is a lot of work to do to get this project in motion, if it is to meet its target of being operational by 2025.

Continuing, he added: “It absolutely has to happen and we want to do it in a way that meets the concerns of people in the counties between where the water will be extracted and then treated, and then served into taps in Dublin and those surrounding areas.

We will work through that process now. There is a big piece of work to do there; part of it is communication, but part of it is actually working with the groups on the ground.

It is expected that Irish Water will submit planning applications for the project to An Bord Pleanála in 2019.

‘Critically dependent’

The importance of the project was also highlighted on RTE Radio 1’s Drivetime show by Angela Ryan, a water resources specialist with Irish Water.

Commenting on the project, she said: “We have completed all of the environmental studies along the route.

We have looked at many options to address the supply-demand issues and we feel that we have come up with the optimal option that balances the needs of both the environment and Irish Water users right along a benefiting corridor in the eastern and midlands region.

“We’re absolutely dependent on this project going ahead. Up until 2025, we will be reducing leakage as much as possible and we will perhaps be bringing some small supplies onto the system.

“But we are critically dependent on delivering this project,” she said.