IRISH Water has come in for severe criticism from councillors who are blaming the State body for delaying much-needed housing developments across the county.
Cllr Deirdre O’Brien (FF) raised a motion at a meeting of the local authority last week calling for Irish Water to be more accountable and improve communication and engagement.
‘They’re not giving us information and they say they are checking into it but we’re still at a loose end,’ said Cllr O’Brien.
‘People need a basic service and I still think the establishment of Irish Water will go down in history as the worst decision ever made.’
Cllr Noel McCarthy (FG) asked that the motion be amended to include a call for Irish Water to come to their divisional meetings on a quarterly basis.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said they are getting no answers from Irish Water at the clinics.
‘I had a motion in about two years about a job being done in Bantry and we got an answer back saying that it would start in the third quarter of 2019 but nothing has happened yet and I’m still trying to find out when it will happen,’ said Cllr Collins.
Cllr Aidan Lombard (FG) said the biggest problem with Irish Water is their timelines, which he said never come true. ‘It’s a really, really poor service,’ he said.
‘I think our hands are going to be so massively tied in our Development Plan because none of the villages in the area I represent have any chance of growing because we have no sewerage capacity left and Irish Water seem to have no plans to do anything about it. We can’t build a scheme of 10 houses in the village of Minane Bridge and we’re shouting about housing and homelessness.’
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) pointed out that in Ballinspittle village itself they have been refused ‘point blank’ to allow even one house be built.
‘The reason is that we don’t have a sufficient treatment system in place. We have, in actual fact, because people have decided they will build their own treatment plant for a number of houses and that’s still being refused,’ Cllr Murphy.
He added that it’s making a ‘shambles’ of the Local Area Plan and said that he knows of a developer who wants to build a group of houses on zoned land there, but is being refused ‘point blank’ even with his own treatment plants on board.
Cllr Michael Creed (FG) said he had the same issues in both Clondrohid and Enniskeane where Irish Water won’t grant planning.
‘Our Development Plan won’t be worth the paper it will be written on as zoning land will be a waste of time as Irish Water won’t grant planning for houses,’ said Cllr Creed.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said villages like Ardfield are ‘in limbo’ now for the next number of years until they get water upgrades.
‘The clinics are not working and while the staff we meet are very courteous, the replies are varied and something needs to improve,’ said Cllr Hayes.
County mayor Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) agreed and said it’s a ‘hugely frustrating process’ trying to gather information from Irish Water and trying to make representations that are acted on.
‘We get these quarterly reports at our divisional meetings which are completely stagnant and copy and paste exercises – Irish Water are producing these,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan, who said they are looking for accountability from Irish Water.
‘We are in the midst of a massive housing crisis and yet in our key villages we can’t build houses because of a lack of infrastructure and trying to get answers where places are on a list of priority is next to impossible,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said any decision relating to connectivity of housing estates or planning matters related to divisional water services is a matter for Irish Water and not Cork County Council.
‘We relay the information to Irish Water,’ he said.