BROADFORD and Cooraclare have been finally included in the €50 million rural wastewater collection and treatment scheme.
On Thursday morning, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien (FF) made the long-awaited announcement with details on the successful applicants. The scheme targets the waste water collection and treatment needs of villages and settlements without access to public waste water services.
It ends an over-four decade wait for both Broadford and Cooraclare to have a sewerage scheme.
After a memo was put before Cabinet, Minister O’Brien received Government approval to progress with the scheme. The scheme is funded by a €50 million commitment under the National Development Plan (NDP) to 2025.
Last September, Broadford and Cooraclare were submitted by Clare County Council in an official application for inclusion. The scheme was first announced by Minister O’Brien in April 2022 with many false-dawns on potential positive news for both Clare villages speculated by Government representatives in the interval.
Alongside Broadford and Cooraclare, Galway villages Clarinbridge and Craughwell, Ramsgrange (Wexford), Beaufort (Kerry) and Ballygawley (Sligo) will all proceed to
funding stage subject to engagement and agreement with the relevant with Local Authority.
Minister O’Brien stated, “This Government have committed, through the NDP, to support the proportionate growth of rural towns and villages. We absolutely understand the need for balanced regional investment and growth throughout the country and the importance of equitable rural investment. As well as that we are extremely conscious of the risks arising from inappropriate waste water treatment infrastructure both to public health and indeed the environment”.
He added, “Having visited many of these villages, I acknowledge and greatly appreciate the work of the local communities in campaigning for these facilities”.
Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) commented, “When Fianna Fáil entered government in 2020, I was asked by party leadership what issues I wanted to see included in the Programme for Government. I said that the provision of rural sewerage schemes would be a redline issue for me and I am delighted that I have been able to pursue this issue in government and now secure the necessary funding from Minister Darragh O’Brien.
“Both villages have waited many decades for such infrastructure and local action groups in both areas have been frustrated at the length of time it took to achieve this. Rural villages have long been a priority of mine, as without a sewerage scheme, these villages can’t grow, housing cannot be provided and there’s also the ongoing environmental hazard of raw sewerage being discharged into drains and watercourses that has the potential of contaminating drinking waters,” he added.
Meelick native Crowe said it was “regrettable that politicians and governments that served Co. Clare over the years didn’t deliver on this scheme heretofore. However, Minister O’Brien has been very proactively engaging with me on this issue and visited Broadford back in summer 2021 to see for himself how needed a scheme like this is”.
Deputy Crowe continued, “I will be pushing to have this pilot scheme now made a multi-annual scheme – there are more villages in Clare that will need this level of investment. I want to also pay tribute to the Broadford Action Group led by PJ Mason and Cllr Bill Chambers and the late Brendan Daly in Cooraclare who have fought doggedly for this day – as well as the other elected representatives”.
Confirmation of the funding means Senator Timmy Dooley (FF) is now in a position to contest next year’s General Election. The former TD stated that he would not go forward as a candidate if both areas were not included in the scheme.