Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Convention centre gets stay on sewerage permit

THE OPERATORS of the national convention centre in Dublin are to be granted an extended temporary licence to use the city’s drainage facilities in the lead-up to its planned official opening in September.

As reported in The Irish Times yesterday, construction of a sewage pumping station for the centre on Dublin’s docklands has yet to begin, despite being a requirement of the planning permission for the development.

However, the project’s developer said last night it was “satisfied it will have a licence to discharge sewage” from the centre so that it can open as planned on September 7th and remain in operation thereafter.

The Spencer Dock Development Company, led by Treasury Holdings, has funded and built the €380 million convention centre as a public-private partnership project. In a statement, it said it had “committed to build the pumping station and provide its agreed funding on receipt of a fully compliant planning approval” from the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.

Doubts had been cast over the planned opening of the centre, as a temporary licence granted by Dublin City Council for its connection to the local sewerage outfall is to expire at the end of the month.

The council said yesterday, however, that it would grant an extension until the end of September.

The docklands authority said yesterday that the developer had only recently sought to make changes to the planned sewerage facilities for the centre.

As a result it had not yet been able to grant consent for the sewerage element of the project.

The authority, which is responsible for planning decisions on the facility, said it had received an application for consent for the changes from the developer only within the last month.

The authority had initially given planning approval for the pumping station in 2005, it said. However the developer subsequently sought permission to alter the station to connect it to an adjacent planned residential complex, including senior citizens accommodation. The complex and that pumping station were never subsequently built.

A spokesman for the authority said that because the latest application for changes was only recently received and because of the nature of the changes, careful consideration of the proposal was required.

“Our first responsibility is to make sure health and safety in the area is not compromised and there are no malodorous emissions into the area.” He said the authority said it expected to reach a decision within weeks.

It is estimated that the sewerage facility, which would pump about 600 litres of sewage per second from the convention centre at Spencer Dock to the waste water treatment plant at Ringsend, could be built within six to eight months.

The facility is connected to the local drainage network which Dublin City Council has said is already operating at capacity.

Fine Gael environment spokesman Phil Hogan described the situation as “a fiasco” which was the latest example of “the lack of oversight and inadequate planning expertise” deployed by the docklands authority.

The authority had already exposed taxpayers to a potential €500 million loss on the Irish Glass Bottle site, Mr Hogan said, and the reputational and economic damage which would be caused if planned events at the convention centre had to be cancelled over bad sewerage planning would be a major setback for Dublin city.

“The docklands authority has come to represent the waste, incompetence and excess of the celtic tiger years under Fianna Fáil. And it sums up the lack of joined-up thinking that has brought Ireland to the brink.

“If there’s anything that needs to be flushed down the toilet, it’s the [docklands authority],” he said.

Irish Times


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