Detailed proposal submitted by council; John puts it to CEO
The chief executive of the IDA has told Waterford TD John Deasy that the agency will consider a major re-fit of the former recycling plant in Dungarvan as a base for new industry.
A comprehensive proposal to renovate the vacant Shandon facility was submitted to the agency by senior Waterford and City Council officials last week following contacts between Mr Deasy and the IDA.
He then raised the proposal with IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan when he appeared before the Dáil Public Accounts Committee on Thursday.
The local Fine Gael deputy has held a series of meetings with senior IDA executives over the past number of weeks: namely, chairman Frank Ryan, new South East Regional Manager Anne-Marie Tierney-Le Roux, and the CEO. He also spoke with Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton last week about the proposal.
These discussions included the possibility of an advance factory for Dungarvan. “While there are other factors involved, the availability of suitable buildings, both office and manufacturing units, is critical to try and draw investors away from the likes of Dublin and Cork,” Mr Deasy said.
"Council officials believe that, properly refitted, it would compare favourably with the new building at the IDA Technology Park in Waterford."
Martin Shanahan told him the IDA is “happy to engage” with the local authority. “We will examine that and come back to the council’s chief executive in relation to the proposal he has put forward to see what can be done... and within what timeframe.”
It was announced last week that a five-year, €150 million property investment programme is to be rolled out by the IDA to attract foreign direct investment into the regions — including another new advance technology building for Waterford in 2017.
While positive, “it’s too far away,” Mr Deasy said. And though hopeful that a client company will be secured soon for the just-completed 25,274sq-ft advance technology building in Butlerstown, the Dungarvan TD said a similar ‘turn-key solution’ is needed in the west of the county.
Martin Shanahan said advance facilities are “hugely important for us”, and agreed that the funding made available to the IDA for property investment could “potentially” be used to upgrade suitable facilities such as the one in Dungarvan.
Deputy Deasy believes revamping the 27,000sq-ft plant, “which started life as an advance factory before being adapted to accommodate the Materials Recovery Facility, would make sense. Returning it to its original purpose does seem a logical move at this stage. It needs an internal overhaul and an external upgrade, and the detail of that has been outlined to the IDA.”
He added: “Council officials believe that, properly refitted, it would compare favourably with the new building at the IDA Technology Park in Waterford. Another plus is that it wouldn’t require planning and could become a ready-made facility very quickly. Also, the unit sits on a fully-serviced site of almost 4 acres, with plenty of scope for expansion.”
Cllr Damien Geoghegan, Mayor of the Dungarvan-Lismore District, says “retrofitting the plant for a new industry would make it a very marketable proposition, and hopefully accelerate the delivery of additional employment to the town and the wider west Waterford area. The proposal that’s being looked at would be an ideal fit with the enterprise agencies’ new regional strategy.”
Following representations by Waterford TD John Deasy, the Environmental Protection Agency has instructed Irish Water to take steps to mitigate against pollution of the River Bride in Tallow whilst a new wastewater treatment plant is being built.
Deputy Deasy referred the matter to the EPA in response to reports from a member of Tallow & District Angling Club who was alarmed to see a large volume of untreated sewage entering the river just 100 yards from Tallow Bridge.
Similar concerns have been raised in the past. The Council previously indicated a new treatment plant would be commissioned before the end of this year. However, the Waterford Grouped Towns and Villages Sewerage Scheme, of which Tallow is part, was delayed.
Irish Water took over the combined project in January and has included it in its Capital Investment Plan 2014-2016. The utility has signed a contract for the ’Seven Villages’ scheme which is due to commence shortly, with a two-year completion target. The local authority has already completed the collection system works.
The old part of Tallow is served by a septic tank and the new estates to the east of the town by an integrated constructed wetland. The septic tank discharges under gravity to the River Bride downstream of Tallow Bridge.
The EPA pursued Deputy Deasy’s complaint with Irish Water and also carried out a site inspection. It duly opened a compliance investigation and instructed Irish Water to take a number of actions — including emptying the existing septic tank and transporting the contents to a suitable facility for treatment. This was completed in mid-October.
The EPA said “Irish Water was also reminded of the requirement to comply with conditions of their licence.” With the upgraded scheme due to be operational in late 2016, “In the interim, the licensee is required to optimise the current plant through increased operation and maintenance and a regular de-sludging programme” — details of which were to be submitted to the Agency by last week. The EPA also wants a screen installed on the primary discharge from the Tallow plant.