The construction of hundreds of new homes in Midleton, Co Cork, is being held up because Irish Water hasn't given a commitment on a start date for the significant upgrade to the sewerage plant there.
One developer has become so irritated by the delay he's planning to use septic tanks for his new homes and transport the waste for treatment at the Carrigtwohill plant.
A meeting of the East Cork Municipal District Council heard that 500 new homes had planning permission in the area, but many of these can't be built because of the situation.
Fianna Fáil councillor Ann Marie Ahern was so frustrated by the delay she proposed there was no point in rezoning more land for housing until Irish Water gave a commitment and definitive start date on upgrading the plant.
“There is a large development proceeding at the moment where the developer will have to install a septic tank system and pump the system on a regular basis, transferring the waste by tanker to the Carrigtwohill treatment facility,” Ms Ahern said.
She added that An Bord Pleanála recently turned down a planning application because of the situation.
She also pointed out that if the treatment plant was upgraded developers could start building and this would provide badly needed jobs in the construction sector.
Independent councillor Noel Collins said the “snail's pace progress" (on upgrading the plant) is to be deplored adding it is seriously disrupting planned development in the area.
Fine Gael councillor Susan McCarthy claimed Irish Water has been stymying development in Midleton for some time now.
“It's a massive issue. I agree with the motivation for motion (by Ms Ahern), but I'm not sure the way to go about it is not to rezone further land,” Ms McCarthy said.
She pointed out that the Local Area Plan for Midleton is coming up for debate soon, which will form a blueprint for further development in the area for the next five years.
Ms McCarthy suggested there was little point in discussing that without getting a commitment from Irish Water and suggested councillors must lobby local TDs to put pressure on the utility, which was agreed.
Mayor of County Cork, Independent councillor Mary Linehan-Foley, claimed that Irish Water wouldn't be able to start connecting new homes to the sewerage plant until at least 2023.
It was agreed the municipal district council would write to Irish Water expressing “serious concern” and ask a senior representative to attend a meeting.