On 26 November 2012 I noted that
The Royal Canal water supply applications have been approved by An Bord Pleanala. There were two separate applications […] but they were in effect treated as one.
There were conditions attached, but I concluded that
If I remember correctly, the amount of water available from Lough Ennell will not always provide enough (eg in a dry season) to keep the canal full. Still, this is a significant advance for Waterways Ireland and for Royal Canal enthusiasts.
So here we are, almost two years later, and the work of providing a supply from Lough Ennell to the Royal Canal, reckoned to be about a five-month job, has doubtless been long completed, no?
The work has not yet started and Waterways Ireland will be lucky if it gets done within the next year.
As I understand it — and if, Gentle Reader, you have more information, do please leave a Comment below (your name can be kept out of public view if you like) — there are three sources of delay:
- first, I understand that there is a technical issue about one of the conditions attached to the approval; it is felt that the condition is unworkable, but that getting it changed might take some time. I presume it’s one of the conditions 2(a) to 2(d) that I quoted two years ago and, looking at the proposed orders published in the press [PDF], I suspect it might be the requirement to maintain the lake level at or above 79.325 mOD Malin Datum. However, I don’t really know
- second, Waterways Ireland took over Clonsingle Weir, at the outlet from Lough Ennell, by Compulsory Purchase. Owners of mills, who generate electricity from the Brosna, have submitted claims for compensation. I understand that an arbitration hearing, lasting four days, is scheduled to be help in May 2015
- third, responsibility for the scheme has moved from Westmeath County Council to Irish Water. Which may have other things on its mind.
Irish Water has published its proposed Capital Investment Programme [PDF] but Appendix 1, the Investment Plan Project Summary, is in a separate file [PDF]. Category B is headed Review Scope and Commence Construction and it includes
Mullingar Regional Water Supply Scheme (G) … Lough Ennell Abstraction.
I can’t work out what “(G)” means. A few items are so marked; a few others are marked “(H)”; most items have neither.
The Capital Investment Programme [CIP] document says:
The CIP is dominated by contractual commitments entered into previously by Local Authorities, and which have now transitioned to Irish Water. In the 2014-2016 period, Irish Water will fund these contracts to completion and bring forward programmes and prioritised projects to commence. At the same time, it will progress a large portfolio of projects that are at the planning and design stage, reviewing their scope, budgets and, where appropriate, timing to favour maximising the performance of the existing assets through intensified capital maintenance that might allow deferral of major capital investment.
Emphasis mine. So that raises the possibility that Irish Water will decide not to fund the abstraction scheme but will rather opt to pay for continued pumping.
It is, of course, quite possible that I have misunderstood these difficult matters, so I will be glad to hear from anyone with better information.
Incidentally, reviewing Irish Water’s documents suggests to me that there are people there who know what they are doing and who have the expertise to manage large and complex operations. That differentiates them from the politicians in government and opposition, few of whom (as far as I can see) have any experience of running anything more complex than a parish social.