Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry says the closure of the Cairns Hill water treatment and distribution works will put major pressure on the water system in and around the greater Sligo area, and could jeopardise inward investment and jobs in the region.
Irish Water plans to close the plant on the 12th June, which means the entire Sligo, Strandhill and Ballisodare are will be solely reliant on the Foxes Den facility.
Deputy Mac Sharry explained, “It is completely nonsensical to shut down one of the main water facilities before any necessary upgrades are carried out. Sligo is already running at full capacity with the two existing water plants, and there will be serious issues once the Cairns Hill site is closed. This will have a major impact on the ability of the area to attract new investment opportunities. The majority of business and housing developments are depending on a secure water infrastructure, and as a result of Irish Water’s failure to upgrade the facility at Foxes Den before closing Cairns Hill, the infrastructure in Sligo and the surrounding areas is simply not up to scratch.
“I first became aware of this threat in January 2016, and I brought forward a Private Members Motion in the Seanad that month. Then Minister Ged Nash failed to give any assurances on the matter but in April last year Irish Water issued a press statement announcing the upgrade of the Foxes Den which would cater for current and substantial additional capacity. It claimed the works would take 9 months to carry out and would commence in May 2016.
“Despite no upgrade work being carried out, Irish Water is still pushing ahead with the closure of the Cairns Hill site in June. This will leave Sligo at full capacity with no future commercial development potential. The bottom here line is the Cairns Hill closure will further exasperate the increasing state neglect of our area and their discriminatory actions which underpin our inability to perform to our potential and provide badly needed employment and housing.
“What has also emerged as a result of this closure is that Irish Water is now expecting new customers to foot the bill for the upgrade of the Foxes Den facility. This poses a serious deterrent for any new companies who may be considering locating in Sligo and I am extremely concerned that it could result in these businesses setting up in Galway or Athlone, where they would not be subject to these additional costs.
“The Government must ensure that the Foxes Den is upgraded BEFORE the Cairns Hill facility s closed and that sufficient resources are made available for this as a matter of urgency”, concluded Deputy Mac Sharry.