Residents wait on Irish Water approval

The lack of approval from Irish Water is preventing Cork County Council “taking in charge” 74 housing estates.

And the proposed council maintenance of a further 11 estates is also delayed. They have not been finished to a required standard.

Resident associations in 174 estates in Cork county have asked the local authority to take over their maintenance, but only one is currently going through the legal process.

Problems with Irish Water and developers are among the difficulties local authorities face in taking charge of housing estates, a meeting heard.

Cork’s County Hall only took over three estates in 2017 and 10 the previous year, compared to 174 in 2014 and 92 in 2013.

Catriona Ní Mhainnin, a senior executive officer in the planning department, said that prior to Irish Water being established, taking charge was straightforward and under the control of the council.

Irish water, however, is also responsible for wastewater treatment systems.

Ms Ní Mhainnin, in a report, said there were 26 applications from estates that have wastewater treatment plants.

There is currently no national strategy for dealing with such estates and, as such, Irish Water will not take the treatment plants in charge.

However, she said the council’s estates’ section hopes to be in a position, subject to Irish Water’s cooperation, to commence the formal taking-in-charge process of a number of estates by the late summer.

The largest number of estates on a waiting list for taking-in-charge includes 30 in the Kanturk/Mallow municipal district and 11 in the Bandon/Kinsale municipal district.

Seamus McGrath
Seamus McGrath

Ms Ní Mhainnin provided the report at the request of Cllr Seamus McGrath, who has championed the cause of residents who want the local authority to take care of housing-estate maintenance.

Cllr McGrath said, unfortunately, that a number of developers were not fulfilling obligations to build estates to proper standards.

Residents’ associations have to first petition the council.

Cllr McGrath said increasing numbers “showed the level of frustration out there”.

“I know there are issues with developers, receivers, and so on. Then, there’s the Irish Water issue. Residents are being held to ransom, with its refusal to take in charge wastewater treatment plants,” he said.

Cllr Mary Rose Desmond claimed the Irish Water issue was actually blocking the sale of houses.

“We need to insist. There is a national strategy to deal with this. It’s an ostrich, head-in-the sand approach,” she said.

Cllr Des O’Grady said that prior to the foundation of Irish Water, the process was straightforward.

“That’s where the problems began. Irish Water can block the taking-in-charge at their whim. The Government is surely responsible for this,” he said.

Cllr Danny Collins said he knew of estates in Dunmanway and Glengarriff, in particular, that were getting the runaround, because of Irish Water’s refusal to approve their water and sewerage systems.

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