Dublin City Council’s strategic policy committee heard today (July 22) that a planned park could solve water issues for the Greater Dublin area as well as supplying Counties Meath, Wicklow, Kildare, Offaly and Westmeath

The water based eco-park would have fishing, boating, cycling, water and leisure sports on 500 acres, along with a major water storage reservoir, located on a former cut away bog, Garryhinch Bog, in County Offaly.

The committee, sitting at Dublin City Hall, heard the project would cost an estimated Euro 540 million and generate an estimated 1000 construction jobs for three years, in addition to creating ongoing sustainable long term jobs in the midlands managing the eco-park activities and a water plant.

Consultants for Dublin City Council, RPS and Veolia Water, have recommended a total of nine counties, including the four Dublin local authority areas could benefit from the eco-park, with the reservoir water being taken from the River Shannon at Lough Derg during periods of flood and high flows only, when there is more than enough water in the lake for all users.

It would be stored at the new water eco-park, from where it could be used during periods of low flows in the Shannon.

The average amount of water from Lough Derg under this proposal is 2% and at present this 2% flows into the Atlantic ocean every day and is replenished with rain falling on the catchment.

Bord na Mona, owners of Garryhinch Bog, have expressed their commitment to support the project as it is in line with their green energy vision, their Lough Boora Park developments and their plans to create new sustainable jobs in the Midlands.

Bord Na Mona has recently received approval for new wind generated energy to supply up to 45,000 homes and this could see this renewable energy source being used to power the midlands eco-park.

The Consultants suggest that a 500 acre eco-park would be constructed at Garryhinch Bog that would be along the lines of the well known UK Rutland Water and Eco-park in east Anglia.

“This innovative recommendation is the result of a huge amount of research and consultation with all stakeholders over the last six years and could benefit everyone,” says Tom Leahy, executive manager, Dublin City Council.

“The project is needed to provide security of water supplies and to sustain and grow jobs and the economy; particularly to afford growth opportunities to the nationally important strategic industries relying on water to generate exported products.

“The midlands would gain a permanent innovative water based tourism amenity that would also rehabilitate the existing cutaway bog. It will also provide a large number of jobs, both during construction and on-going local jobs in the water treatment plant, managing the eco-park and promoting it as a top leisure and tourist amenity.”

An Environmental Impact Statement process will be undertaken next, before a planning application is made to An Bord Pleanála and further and full statutory public consultation takes place.

An Bord Pleanála will make the decision on the project, which will require funding from Government.

Luke Walsh

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