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Wicklow To Benefit From New Water Supply Project

Uisce Éireann has received approval to develop a new project that will protect the future of water supplies in Wicklow.

The delivery of the Water Supply Project, Eastern and Midlands Region will play a critical role in supporting sustainable development, enabling housing delivery and attracting investment to Wicklow for the next 30 years and beyond.

The project, which has received Cabinet approval in principle under the Infrastructure Guidelines, can now proceed to planning. It will be one of the largest and most important infrastructure projects in the history of the State and has the capacity to ensure secure sustainable water supplies for up to 2.5 million people across the country. It will create a water spine across the country which will ensure an urban level of service to towns and regions from Tipperary to Dublin and Carlow to Drogheda. 

In Wicklow, the project will allow water resources that are currently being channelled to the Greater Dublin area to be redirected to provide a secure, sustainable water supply capable of supporting regional development opportunities. This will provide the capacity to support population growth in a number of areas including Avoca, Ballinteskin, Rathdrum, Laragh-Annamoe, Barndarrig, Ballinapark, Dunlavin and Hollywood. 

It will also provide the capacity and flexibility to support greater commercial water demand for existing businesses and potential future investment in these areas. This will be in addition to other significant investments by Uisce Éireann in the county. Since 2014, the utility has invested almost €300 million in water and wastewater infrastructure projects in the county, with significant continued investment in infrastructure and programmes planned. 

Commenting after the Government decision, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD said: “I am very glad to have received Government approval today for the Water Supply project to proceed at Approval Gate 1 under the Infrastructure Guidelines. What this means is that Úisce Éireann can now progress the project through the remaining Infrastructure Guidelines approval gates including the submission of a planning application to An Bord Pleanála in 2025. This marks an important first step in what is a multi-billion euro project which will ensure a sustainable water supply for our country both now and into the future. 

“Not only that, but this project will enable much needed housing delivery. One of the key recommendations in the recently published Housing Commission report was to ‘take urgent action to ensure delivery of the critical Water Supply Project for the Eastern and Midlands Region” and with today’s Cabinet approval we are doing just that and showing our commitment to this project and to the future generations.”  

Uisce Éireann CEO Niall Gleeson said, “The Water Supply Project is critical for the future of our country. By delivering a secure, climate-proof supply of water for up to 50% of the State’s population it will facilitate increased demand for housing, enable sustainable economic growth and support competitiveness across the Region. Crucially it will also help us meet the challenges of climate change by diversifying our water supplies to ensure safe, resilient water services for communities across the region, and reduce the vulnerability to drought and other extreme weather events.”

The Water Supply Project Eastern and Midlands Region proposes to abstract a maximum of 2% of the average flow of the River Shannon at Parteen Basin downstream of Lough Derg. Treated water will then be piped 170km through counties Tipperary, Offaly and Kildare to a termination point reservoir at Peamount in County Dublin, connecting into the Greater Dublin network.

The proposal approved in principle by Cabinet is the culmination of extensive and detailed appraisal of potential solutions and alternatives in addition to extensive stakeholder and landowner engagement.  To date, the project team has engaged with over 1,500 stakeholders and Uisce Éireann is committed to continuing engagement with all stakeholders including landowners and communities along the route. There will be a further round of non-statutory consultation before the project is submitted to An Bord Pleanála for planning approval next year with construction estimated to take 4-5 years. 

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