European Commission to take action against Ireland over Urban Wastewater

15th February 2017

Investment of €1 billion needed to rectify the situation, or Ireland faces fines of hundreds of millions

The Green Party today welcomed the announcement that the European Commission are to take action against Ireland over failures under the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.

Speaking in response to the announcement, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan TD said that the Government’s failure to invest in wastewater treatment in urban areas was harming the environment, tourism, jobs, and the economy, and called for urgent action in response to the Commission decision.

“Once again the Government has failed to meet their environmental obligations under EU law. We welcome the Commission’s decision to take action against the State, and hope that this serves to inject some urgency into an unacceptable situation that has gone on for far too long.

“Whenever we experience heavy rain, we end up with raw sewage overflowing into our rivers, lakes and seas, thanks to the lack of wastewater processing facilities. Raw sewage is still being discharged into the environment in 43 locations around the country. The negative effects this has on the environment, tourism, jobs and the economy is shocking.

“The State is facing fines in the hundreds of millions for failing to meet their commitments in this area. Irish Water says it will cost a billion euro to rectify the situation. Surely it makes more sense to make the necessary investment now, so we avoid even bigger fines in the future?”

Senator Grace O’Sullivan, who is a member of the Oireachtas Water Committee, said that she would be pushing for a consistent funding stream for investment in water infrastructure.

She said: “This issue can’t be put on the long finger any more. Regions around Ireland, like Waterford, are reliant on the tourism and trade that our rivers, lakes and coastlines attract. We need to preserve and protect our natural resources which contribute so much to our local economies and communities. I will be looking for a commitment from Government in the Water Committee that this issue is dealt with for good, and that a long term funding model is agreed for the good of all.”