*Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien (FF) with local election candidate David Griffin (FF). 

OBJECTIONS to the upgrade of a wastewater treatment plant in Newmarket-on-Fergus has been criticised by the Minister for Housing.

An appeal was made to An Bord Pleanála in November 2023, one month after Clare County gave the green light to Uisce Éireann to carry out upgrade works to the wastewater treatment plant at Boheroran in Newmarket-on-Fergus, subject to seven conditions. A decision on the appeal is due to be made next month.

Chartered civil engineer, Michael Duffy in his appeal claimed that the upgrades cannot proceed due to a “blatant” circumvention of planning and environmental legislation.

Since 2017, 54 social housing units have been built in Newmarket-on-Fergus, 31 of which were provided in 2020 and 18 in 2022.

Speaking during his visit to Co Clare on Friday, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien (FF) noted that works would already be underway in Newmarket-on-Fergus had no objection been made. He stated, “We’ve a situation just down the road in Newmarket-on-Fergus where we’ve planning approval for the extension to the wastewater treatment plant, we’ve an open planning process in this country and it is very difficult to be able to proceed with a scheme if someone objects to it and takes it on, that scheme would have been underway already, I’m hoping we’ll have a decision on that by March”.

Minister O’Brien met with Newmarket-on-Fergus’ David Griffin who is contesting the local elections briefly on Friday. Griffin noted that O’Brien was “the first cabinet Minister in the village for quite some time”. Junior Minister for Sport, Thomas Byrne (FF) did a brief canvass in the village with Griffin in recent weeks.

Griffin stated, “I was eager to get the Minister into the village to show the huge potential we have for investment and for future development. We are fifth largest town in the county, with proper investment and forward planning we have the potential to thrive. National funding for housing, waste water infrastructure and a town centre first planning approach will be key. I was glad to be able to get the Minister on the ground in the village and to highlight the huge potential we have and the need for a Town Centre First model”.

In a recent proposal before the Shannon Municipal District, Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) requested Clare County Council “as a matter of urgency to provide social and affordable housing and serviced sites in Newmarket-on-Fergus due to the growing demand for housing in the area”.

Acting senior engineer in the social development directorate of the Council, Adrian Headd detailed that “in response to the demand for social housing in Newmarket-on-Fergus” 54 social housing units were built in the last seven years. He confirmed there was no proposals to add to this figure in 2024 but “all options regarding the future provision of social housing” would be explored.

Headd detailed that a detailed submission had to be made to the Department of Housing to ensure the county met the eligibility for Affordable Housing.

He flagged, “currently Clare County Council does not have a suitable land bank within Newmarket-on-Fergus in order to meet the criteria and provide sites under the serviced sites scheme”.

Cllr McMahon noted that Newmarket-on-Fergus is the fifth largest town or village in the county. A landbank allowed for the village’s housing stock to grow in the 1980s and 1990s, he recalled. “We all know the price of a house is a major factor in the problems we have today with the shortage of housing. This problem goes back twenty years”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native McMahon who is to step down from politics in June added that 49 houses from private developers were turned down in the village over the last two and a half years due to inadequate capacity on the water network. “We need a policy in place, it is the nearest village to Shannon Airport, it is a pity that things move awfully slow”. He lamented, “people now cannot get into Newmarket-on-Fergus to build a house”.

Voicing his support, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) maintained, “the more of these motions that go forward in relation to the crisis we’re in the better”. He noted that of the 54 houses built since 2017, some were from Clare County Council and others from Co-operative Ireland.

Cathaoirleach of the Shannon MD, Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) said, “it is a very timely motion considering we’re in a housing crisis”. She highlighted that in some cases “there are multiple families living under the one roof”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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