The Greater Dublin Drainage Project - Myths and Facts

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fingal County Council has posted new information about the Greater Dublin Drainage project on the site to counteract misinformed facts circulating about the Project. 

“We want to scotch a few myths and confirm the facts relating to the need for a new regional wastewater treatment plant in north Dublin, a marine outfall and a new orbital sewer, that will be needed after 2020, to augment the Ringsend wastewater Treatment Works”, said Peter O’Reilly, Project Engineer of the The Greater Dublin Drainage project. The Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Plant (WwTP) is expected to be operating at full capacity by 2020, following current plans to expand the Ringsend WWTP to its maximum capacity.

The new information includes the following:
Myth: The proposed new regional WwTP in North Dublin will be the largest plant in the Country?
Fact :The proposed new regional WwTP in North Dublin will not be the largest plant in the Country. By 2040 it will deal with approximately one third of the wastewater that will be treated at the expanded Ringsend WWTP.
Ringsend WwTP currently treats 1.8 million population equivalents (population equivalent is determined based on current population figures and an equivalent of population that is attributed to the industries that will also send wastewater to the new regional wastewater treatment plant). When extended to its full extent, the Ringend WWTP will treat the equivalent of 2.1 million population equivalents.
Myth:  The expanded Ringsend Plant will be sufficient. 
Fact: The Ringsend WwTP will reach its maximum treatment capacity of 2.1 million PE by 2020. To ensure that the Ringsend WwTP does not become overloaded post 2020 it will be necessary to divert part of its contributing catchment to another treatment facility. In order to achieve this, a new WWTP in north county Dublin will need to be commissioned by 2020.
Myth:  The new plant will treat wastewater from 700,000 people.
Fact: When it is initially commissioned the new WwTP will treat wastewater from approximately 350,000 population equivalents.  By 2040, it is estimated that the treatment capacity provided by this new plant will have risen to 700,000 population equivalents. 
Myth: The proposed new Regional WwTP in North Dublin will mainly treat wastewater from other Local Authorities
Fact: Although the proposed regional WwTP will treat some wastewater from other Local Authorities (Meath, Kildare, and eventually South Dublin), the majority of the wastewater that will be diverted to this new plant is currently discharging to Ringsend WWTP and a majority of the flows to the plant will come from the Fingal County Council area

Myth:  The proposed new plant will require 50 ha of land.
Fact: The new regional WwTP will require a site area of approximately 20 ha. Within this site, approximately 16 ha will be required for the plant and 4ha (approx 10 acres) for a buffer zone/screening.
All of the nine land parcels identified are larger than the required 20 ha. The Project Team are currently undertaking further studies, which will continue over the winter, to identify the most suitable 20 ha within each of the nine land parcels and ultimately a single preferred 20ha site.
Myth:  A number of smaller plants would be preferable.
Fact: Why one regional plant and not a lot of small ones? The option of having a large number of smaller wastewater treatment plants rather than one regional plant was given a lot of consideration as far back as 2005, as part of the Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study (GDSDS). The issue was considered again in 2008 when the strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) report was published. Both the GDSDS and the SEA reports confirm that one large regional plant will have a lesser impact on the environment than would a large number of smaller plants discharging to ground/surface waters across the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) and the decision was made to build one regional WwTP.  The local rivers and streams across the GDA are too small to be able to absorb the cumulative impacts of treated effluent from a large number of smaller plants.  The predicted impacts of climate change and the possibility of stricter surface/ground water legislation in the future also rule out a number of small local plants and confirm the need for the one regional plant, capable of treating wastewater from 700,000 population equivalent.

Myth: This plant will cost € 2.5billion euro. 
Fact: The cost of the project has not been determined to date. The full cost of the project will not be determined until the location of all three elements of the project are confirmed, along with the technology that will be used at the wastewater treatment works.  The cost is likely to be in the hundreds of millions of euros and is likely to be less than €500 million. 
The €2.5billion figure that has been attributed to the Project, refers to all the wastewater projects in the Greater Dublin Area identified by the Greater Dublin Strategic Drainage Study (GDSDS) in 2005.  It includes for the upgrading of all wastewater treatment plants in the GDA to their ultimate capacity including the upgrading of the Ringsend WwTP and the Shanganagh Bray WwTP; it also includes for significant upgrading of the existing drainage networks across the entire GDSDS study area and Operational & Maintenance costs for a 30 year period.
Myth: This is the last phase of consultation before the site is selected
Fact: The Public Consultation that was carried out by Fingal County Council in May and June this summer and now, during October and November, is non-statutory consultation and does not affect your rights to object to the project when the final preferred site is identified and a planning application is submitted to An Bord Pleanála. This will not happen before 2013, at which stage An Bord Pleanála will carry out its own statutory public consultation on the project.  Fingal County Council are committed to consulting with all interested parties at the very earliest stage of the Greater Dublin Drainage Project and to give all parties the opportunity to have their say on the project before any decisions are made.  There will be further opportunities for non-statutory public consultation in 2012, when the nine land parcels are reduced to a shortlist of potential sites.
Fingal County Council has extended the date for receiving submissions on the Greater Dublin Drainage project until 2nd December to facilitate people who still want to make a submission on the project.  Although the advertised date for end of this non-statutory public consultation was 18th November (10th October – 18th November), submissions will be accepted and considered after the date, though they may not be included in the Consultation Report on this stage of the project.
Myth: The site is already been selected and this process is disingenuous
Fact: The preferred site for the proposed regional WwTP is unlikely to be known until late next year.
What have been identified at this stage are 9 potential land parcels within which the proposed regional WwTP could be located and also identified pipeline corridors to and from the plant, as well as areas for a potential outfall to the Irish Sea. The approach in identifying these sites was to avoid (and not just mitigate) significant environmental impacts.
At this stage we have not identified specific sites for the regional WwTP. Most of the land parcels are far in excess of the 20 hectares required to accommodate the plant and there could be a number of potential siting options within each of the land parcels.
The nine potential land parcels included in the Report (which can be found here)have been identified through high-level, desk based studies and each will be examined in greater detail over the next stage of the Project. Site specific information, more in-depth desk-top research and site survey, as well as feedback form the public are needed now, to rule out any unsuitable land parcel, and to assist in identifying the best location.
People are welcome to contact the Project Team at any time by email at, by phone at 1890 44 55 67 or in writing to Greater Dublin Drainage Project Manager, C/O RPS Group, West Pier Business Campus, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Or you can visit our website

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