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Villagers to fight Irish Water’s €190,000 connection fees

January 12th, 2023 5:45 PM

By Jackie Keogh

John Collins protesting the scheme in Castletownshend. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

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A CASTLETOWNSHEND resident staged a protest on Christmas Day after eight homes at Cross Street were excluded from a wastewater treatment project that is currently under construction in the village.

John Collins – who owns one of the eight houses at Cross Street, which is located at the top of the village – said he felt he had to make the protest public because he is getting ‘the run around’ from Irish Water and Cork County Council.

Linda Burns – who owns another one of the houses which are amongst the oldest in the village – also complained that Irish Water and Cork County Council are ‘passing the buck’ and the residents are not getting a satisfactory reply to their calls and correspondence.

The residents fear they will be asked to pay €190,000 in connection fees after a letter was sent by an Irish Water connections and developer services engineer to a Skibbereen-based surveyor.

The engineer informed the surveyor that a wastewater network extension of approximately 270m would be required to complete a connection to all eight houses.

‘A guideline is €500 to €700 per metre,’ said the engineer, ‘although this may vary once a full analysis is done.’

According to John Collins, the wastewater from the eight houses is currently being treated by seven septic tanks. But, for environmental reasons, he believes the houses should be included in the new scheme.

‘Six of the eight houses being excluded are occupied all year round,’ said Linda Burns, who made the point that a number of the houses on the village’s main street are holiday homes yet they are being included in the new scheme.

‘We are part of the village, the same as everybody else,’ said Linda, who suggested Irish Water or Cork County Council should pay the €190,000 connection fee to bring the village’s wastewater treatment services up to standard.

The Environmental Protection Agency had previously identified Castletownshend and Castletownbere as two areas where the discharge of raw sewage was at its worst in West Cork.

Linda Burns said they have enlisted the support of local public representatives ‘because we will not accept this as the final answer from the local authority or Irish Water.

‘We will,’ she added, ‘continue to fight this until we win our case.’

A spokesperson for Irish Water said all properties that were already connected to the Irish Water sewer network will be connected to the new Wastewater Treatment Plant without incurring a charge. 

‘The scope of the project does not include any network extensions,’ she added, ‘and any houses not already connected to the Irish Water sewer network need to apply for a new connection.’

The spokesperson confirmed that Irish Water has received a connection application in relation to the eight houses and are ‘continuing to engage with the applicant to develop a connection offer.’

However she said the applicant will be responsible for paying the relevant connection charges, including the quotable costs of extending the wastewater network to service the houses in question.

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