The idea of the CLÁR programme is to establish schemes. Individual projects are not evaluated. Each scheme has to be agreed with the line Department, in this case the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. No situation is unique — we are all unique and we are all the same. This applies to the Achill Sound sewerage scheme. A delegation recently informed me not to worry about the situation in Achill because there is a unique one in County Clare. My village, Corr na Mona, does not have a sewerage scheme.
If I were to consider the Achill Sound situation under the CLÁR programme, the methodology would be simple. A scheme would have to be established. The success of the CLÁR programme is that schemes are devised that are open to various projects once they conform to the terms of the scheme. I cannot pick out individual projects to suit a scheme. A scheme must be devised to address an issue.
The Deputy claims there are areas in which the normal criteria used by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government do not apply. This is because of the polluter pays principle and the dispersal of dwellings in the area concerned. It must be accepted that the countryside cannot be covered with individual sewerage schemes. If one creates a scheme for the provision of sewerage systems, how does one confine it in such a way that people do not disperse further from villages and townlands to the point of it not being practical?
The Mayo county manager has conveyed his concerns to me on the Achill Sound matter. I had tentative discussions with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on the matter. I stress I cannot move on any project under the CLÁR programme without a scheme being properly devised. One attractive feature of the programme is that schemes must be introduced in a systematic manner and be universally applicable. For example, if I install flashing hazard lights outside one school, they must be installed at all other schools. There are serious challenges in devising a scheme that would not have an open sesame effect on projects because I do not have unlimited funds. The costings suitable for a sewerage scheme in a large town or agglomeration may not provide the basic services for areas with more scattered dwellings.
A possible model exists in the Shannon Basin district scheme. It was introduced by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Whether it could be applied universally is another day's work.