Virginia WWT plant upgrade for late 2024

Irish Water expects to submit a planning application for the new Virginia Wastewater Treatment Plant in the coming months.

The lack of capacity at the current plant has seen a number of housing and other developments blocked.

The potential for waste to enter local waterways saw the plans blocked on environmental grounds.

Inland Fisheries Ireland had routinely appealed planning permission for housing developments to An Bord Pleanála, citing the burden on the existing water infrastructure.

The State agency, which is responsible for the protection, management and conservation of Ireland’s inland fisheries, said any new sizable development would add “extra wastewater at an already overloaded wastewater treatment plant”.

The Government, meanwhile, has been warned that delays in upgrading water services in parts of Cavan will lead to constraints on housing.

During Dáil statements on the Government’s ‘Housing for All’ plan, Cavan TD Brendan Smith said Irish Water has been “far too slow” in carrying out the works needed. “That has complicated housing applications. It has delayed the provision of housing”, he said.

For years now, upgrades at the plant have been sought but Irish Water now says it expects to submit a planning application in early 2022.

“The project is progressing well with detailed design underway,” a spokesperson confirmed.

“The project construction is scheduled for completion in Q4 2024,” they added.

Councillors in the Ballyjamesduff Municipal District were last year told the plant is a “key constraint” on the town’s development, by Director of Services Eoin Doyle.

Deputy Smith urged the Housing Minister to increase staffing and set aside more resources for Irish Water as similar situations could develop in other parts of the county.

And he also warned other towns could also face problems if there isn’t investment in infrastructure. “Further problems will arise in Kingscourt and Bailieborough - areas where there’s huge demand for housing,” he told the Dáil.

Investment, he said, would allow people to live in rural towns and villages, providing a boost to local schools and businesses.

“It will be a very good investment and there will be people wanting those houses,” he said.

It comes as the Mullagh Wastewater Treatment Plant is set for an upgrade, it has been announced.

Irish Water last week confirmed that the upgrade will take place at the existing site to provide additional capacity for growth, under the Small Towns and Villages Growth Programme.

Mullagh is one of 21 locations selected nationwide for improvements. It follows a similar approval for Ballyconnell Wastewater Plant.

After last week’s announcement for Mullagh, Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys was asked by theCeltwhy Virginia was not included in the scheme.

In a response provided by Irish Water, it was explained, as planning is already underway for Virginia, it did not meet the criteria set out for the programme.

Under the scheme, only areas with “a projected deficit” in wastewater capacity and “no project committed” or those with a population of less than 2,000 and water supply constraints were eligible. “I have raised the issue of the upgrade to the Virginia Wastewater Treatment Plant on several occasions with Irish Water in recent times.

“I want to see this project progressed and I will continue to liaise with Irish Water to ensure it remains on track,” pledged Minister Humphreys.