Landowners affected by Irish Water's plan to take water from Parteen Basin and pump it to Dublin have been warned to make sure their rights are respected.
Last year, the State agency unveiled its preferred route for its a €1.2bn proposal to pump 330 million litres of water from the Parteen Basin via a 172km pipe to Dublin to ease the capital's water deficit into the future.
From Parteen, the water will be pumped to Birdhill to a new treatement plant and then taken through Tipperary, Offaly, Laois and Kildare. The plan could take several years to come to fruition and could lead to 15 fulltime jobs and up to 1,000 part-time jobs during construction.
“We want to make sure nobody is taking you for a quick, handy ride,” Eddie Punch general secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association, told a meeting on the proposal in Nenagh.
The farm group is holding a series of meetings in each of the counties affected by the plan to gauge the reaction of landowners to it going ahead.
“It's your land and you are entitled to argue against it,” said Mr Punch. “If it does go ahead, you will end up having to deal with it and have to look at land disturbance, land sterilisation, compensation and it could even affect your Basic Payment Scheme.”
And he further warned that all of this could happen in the midst of CAP reform or a Department inspection.
Mr Punch, in a reference to the launch of the Rebalancing Ireland strategy launched by Minister Simon Coveney, said: “Should we really ask the question should we be pumping water to a Dublin that is already choked. We should look for more regional development. The country is totally unbalanced.”
“The €66m announced for rural regeneration is somewhat out of kilter with the €1.2bn being set aside to pump water to Dublin for people who won't pay, can't pay or never will pay for water. Farmers are not going to pay for that,” said Mr Punch.
He said the organisation would continue to challenge Irish Water's assertion that taking water from the River Shannnon was the only option.
“If the decision is made to drive on and build it, we want to help you, but we have to stick together,” he said.
ICSA rural development chair Seamus Sherlock warned that farmers didn't want something that was going to drive them into more hardship.
ICSA president Patrick Kent said he feared that the pipe would be sold off to a private company.
Farmer Liam Minihan of the Fight The Pipe campaign warned that the figures being used to justify the project were based on miscalculations and that there had never been a water shortage crisis in Dublin, but there was a water treatment crisis.
He warned that local water supplies will have to be closed as Dublin didn't need the water.
“There will be pipes everywhere,” said Mr Minihan.
Irish Water has maintained that the scheme will benefit a massive number of towns and help bring industry to rural Ireland as the pipe will will be fitted with junctions to deliver water to a huge catchment area.
He said our children and grandchildren will be asked to pay for the pipe and called on politicians to have it assessed by the Public Accounts Committee before any money is committed to it because “this is crazy”.
One speaker from the floor said he was “terrified” to make a submission on the proposal before the February 14 deadline as he was afraid the information could later be used against him.
Junior Minister for Health and Offaly TD Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy urged everybody to make a submission, denying the information will be used against those who do.
Tipperary TD and Fianna Fail spokesperson on Agriculture Jackie Cahill said: “If it can be shown it's financial madness, give me the information and I will ask the questions.”
The meeting was chaired by ICSA Tipperary chairperson Tom Egan and was attended by farmers, local councillors and community groups.
Cllr's call to mount legal challenge to project: page 28