An innovative water based eco-park with fishing, boating, cycling, water and leisure sports on 500 acres, with a major water storage reservoir, located on a former cut away bog, Garryhinch Bog, Co Offaly is the recommended solution to finding a new water source for the Greater Dublin area and supply water to Counties Meath, Wicklow, Kildare, Offaly and Westmeath.
The project would cost an estimated Eur540 million and generate an estimated 1,000 construction jobs for three years, in addition to generating 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 that 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 area.
Bord na Mona, owner of Garryhinch Bog, has expressed its commitment to support the project as it is in line with the company’s green energy vision, its Lough Boora Park developments and its 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. It already attracts over a million visitors annually and includes water sports, boating, fishing and an internationally renowned bird sanctuary.
“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.”
An Environmental Impact Statement process will be undertaken next, before a planning application is made to An Bord Pleanala 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.
A new water source to augment all the existing water sources, will be needed in the Dublin region from 2016. An estimated 1.5 million people living in the Midlands and the East of the country, as well as existing and new industries will use the new water supply.