A further delay to the long-awaited upgrade of a wastewater treatment plant for Kenmare has prompted calls for time limits to be imposed on how long it takes An Bord Pleanála to decide on a case.
Last upgraded in the 1990s by Kerry County Council, the Kenmare treatment plant is now so overwhelmed during the summer tourist season the storage tanks have to be emptied. The contents are then removed and taken to Killarney for treatment.
No new housing development can take place in the town and development has been stymied for almost a decade because of the delay in upgrading the plant, according to local councillors.
Irish Water applied for and was granted permission by Kerry County Council in early 2022 for a complete upgrade of storage and treatment facilities at the plant and a new pumping station.
The decision, however, was appealed to An Bord Pleanála in an issue over land ownership and title as well as access. The status of a quarry which is set to supply material for the new plant also formed part of the objection, while the erection of the site notice is also in dispute.
A decision was due by An Bord Pleanála in August but deferred until November 11. However, the decision has been put back again because of the backlog of cases the board has to deal with.
Local Independent councillor Johnny Healy-Rae said Kenmare has been waiting for far too long for the plant to be upgraded.
While appeals were part of the planning process, decisions were taking far too long, and time limits must be set, he said.
“There’s no way of measuring the harm the delay for the treatment plant has done to Kenmare. There is no new development in the town. Schools and jobs are all affected because people wanting to take up jobs have nowhere to live.”
An 80-house development at Bell Height was granted permission six years ago but was stalled until the provision of adequate wastewater treatment. However that permission has now elapsed.
Fine Gael councillor Patrick Connor-Scarteen from Kenmare said there was urgent need for a treatment plant.
“Kenmare is at a standstill without the upgrade and urgently needs it, the delay is hampering further vital infrastructural works, housing and various community projects which are really needed. I urge An Pleanála to give it the green light without further delay,” Mr Connor-Scarteen said.