I propose to take Questions Nos. 8, 18 and 33 together.
I commissioned this independent examination of the design parameters of the Ringsend waste water treatment plant to determine whether they adequately addressed existing and projected loads. I was particularly concerned about the odour problems beyond the site boundary since the plant was first commissioned.
The report finds that the Ringsend plant has improved water quality in Dublin Bay to such an extent that Dollymount Strand qualifies for a blue flag. The plant is producing a high quality sludge and is generating a substantial proportion of its own energy requirements on site. The report concludes that higher levels of commuter, tourism and commercial activity than were anticipated when the plant was being designed would largely explain the difference between the design and actual loading on the plant. It also finds that the odour standard prescribed in the contract documents for the new plant did not reflect the requirements set out in the environmental impact statement.
Dublin City Council was the contracting authority for the construction of the plant and is responsible for managing it. The findings of the report are, therefore, matters for the city council in the first instance. I have, accordingly, referred the report to the council and I understand it is now being examined in detail. Some of the report's recommendations also relate to other local authorities within the Dublin region and the report has been also sent to those authorities for examination. The report concludes that the odour equipment being installed at the plant should eliminate the nuisance to nearby residential areas and that the treatment plant now consistently meets required effluent standards.
Planning for an expansion of the Ringsend plant to its ultimate design capacity of approximately 2.2 million population equivalent, to meet increased demand and to cater for future development, is already under way. Dublin City Council has appointed consultants and work is about to start on drawing up design proposals.