The wastewater plant at the southern end of Crossbarry has been malfunctioning for many years causing blockages, flooding, foul smells and a serious nuisance for locals. Cork County Council, Irish Water and the Department have all agreed that it needs to be upgraded. As it was privately developed, the only option to solve the issues is to have it taken in charge. The Minister must release the new taking-in-charge scheme and give Crossbarry the chance to carry out the much-needed repair work and clean up the mess at the plant.
In addition to the large plant at the lower end of the village, there are a number of smaller temporary plants. Individuals in the village want to build houses and others want to upgrade their businesses. They are all stuck because of the inadequate sewerage connection. When Cluain na Croise was built in 2004 the plant at the end of the estate offered the best option for connecting the rest of Crossbarry village. Pipes were laid around other parts of the village and temporary plants were installed, pending the connection of these developments. The estate was not taken in charge and the developer collapsed when the building boom crashed. When problems arose at the plant, residents were left stuck, experiencing blocked sewers and unable to flush their downstairs toilets.
When emergencies occur local councils step in to resolve the problem. However, because the council is no longer a water authority, it is not in a position to carry out the upgrade. This is impacting on the wider village because the plant was meant to service the village and link up existing plants. The 2016 taking-in-charge initiative offered hope because €180,000 was approved for Crossbarry at that point. The expectation that works would be carried out was not realised and no works were carried out. Irish Water wanted to connect to Inishshannon to solve the problem. Surveys were carried out and the company came back with the same solution, namely, the big plant at the lower end of the village was needed.
That pilot scheme, which was the best option, did not advance for Crossbarry. It was the only scheme in the pilot that did not advance to construction. We have been seeking to have the scheme reopened since 2017. I have raised the matter repeatedly in the Dáil with the Minister of State. It was possibly the first question he addressed in the summer of 2017. At that point, we understood a review was to be conducted shortly, but here we are again. I have raised this repeatedly in a series of questions and have been told the review would take place shortly. People are stuck. We know that €31 million has been allocated to the new taking-in-charge initiative but the scheme needs to be opened in order that an application for the project in Crossbarry can be made. The project has already been assessed under the pilot scheme. We know exactly what is needed so it could even be fast-tracked in the new initiative when it opens.
I appeal to the Minister of State to act in order that we can put an end to the blocked sewers, overflowing gullies and smell affecting a particular corner of Crossbarry and give people in the village the opportunity for an improved quality of life. To be fair to them, these people have put up with this for far too long. This initiative is a real possibility for them. The funding is available and I ask the Minister of State to open the scheme so that Crossbarry and other places can apply.