When I spoke on the Adjournment on 25 May last about the delays in the Kilmallock sewerage scheme, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government responded by saying he has "always been impatient of excessive bureaucracy and paper shifting". He indicated that funding is being provided "for more than 20 locations throughout County Limerick, where planning of new infrastructure is moving ahead rapidly".
The village of Shanagolden is not getting the investment it requires because of delays in providing the sewerage scheme that is urgently needed there. I understand from Limerick County Council that the four sewerage projects at Shanagolden, Foynes, Athea and Askeaton are being pursued together. It seems that the village of Glin was subsequently added to this project. The development of sewerage schemes is most important for each of these places. The lack of progress in this regard has let to a shortfall in the numbers of pupils entering the primary schools in the area. Developers are being deterred from proceeding with housing developments as a consequence of the inability of the existing sewerage scheme to cope with the locality's expanding population.
The Minister of State, Deputy Batt O'Keeffe, is aware that ten phases typically need to be completed, from inception to construction, before a major capital scheme can be approved. I do not agree with the comment made by the Minister, Deputy Roche, that progress is proceeding rapidly, as the approval process has stalled at the fourth phase. There has been an inordinate delay in the approval by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government of the fee agreed by Limerick County Council and the relevant consultant. It is imperative that the Department should agree the revised fee that has been presented to it by the council as soon as possible.
As the Minister of State is aware, Limerick County Council is anxious to proceed with all the sewerage schemes I have mentioned, including the Shanagolden scheme. Can he indicate when it is anticipated that construction work will commence? Sewerage schemes are urgently required in all the locations I have mentioned. The Minister of State has indicated previously that funding has been set aside for all the schemes, but I would like him to assure me that funding has definitely been ring-fenced for the projects in question. I hope the Minister of State's response will be consistent with his stated wish to make progress with the projects as rapidly as possible. I look forward to his response.