28 May 2022

Irish Water accused of 'holding county Longford to ransom' after planning for primary healthcare facility is turned down


Irish Water has come in for criticism over a refusal to grant planning permission for a primary healthcare facility in Edgeworthstown

Irish Water chiefs have come in for stinging criticism this afternoon following a decision by Longford County Council to refuse planning permission for a primary healthcare facility and 20 house development in Edgeworthstown.

Planning officials have turned down an application for the ambitious development along the Chapel Lane area of town after it was lodged at the end of January.

Applicant Fergal Sheridan had signalled his intention to build a healthcare facility spanning over 1,400 square metres alongside twenty dwellings, consisting of four single storey two bedroom dwellings and sixteen two storey three bedroom dwellings.

However, in correspondence seen by the Leader, Longford County Council said it was refusing permission on grounds linked to the town's sewage treatment capabilities.

"The planning authority are not satisfied that wastewater from the proposed development can be adequately dealt with and would give rise to the risk of pollution and pose a significant threat to public health in the longer term," read the statement.

In a further line of argument, the council said it also harboured concerns that the development was "premature" pending the completion of the town's wastewater treatment system.

Local Cllr Paul Ross called into question the decision and in particular how the refusal was intrinsically linked to Edgeworthstown's wastewater effectiveness.

"The town of Edgeworthstown and Ballymahon, two of the three largest towns in the county are being held to ransom by Irish Water over its lack of investment in carrying out these upgrades," he said.

The Fine Gael local politician said historically applications of such a nature would have been granted on the proviso that developments of a similar nature "linked in" with a local sewage treatment plant once it was upgraded.

"We are at the stage now of trying to encourage more and more people to live and work in rural locations," added Cllr Ross.

"And there has been massive investment in Edgeworthstown recently with a new remote working hub and library and this development was another step in adding to that.

"But Irish Water's lack of investment has put paid to that now and it is deeply disappointing."

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