Sewerage ‘error’ leads to cost fears

John Stewart MLA at the Larne plant.
John Stewart MLA at the Larne plant.

Larne sewerage capacity issue leads to new-build cost fears

Lack of sewerage capacity is likely to add significant costs to building a new home in Larne, it has been claimed.

Concern over the impact on the town’s economy follows confirmation the Larne Sewerage Waste Water Treatment Works at Redlands are at capacity and NI Water will not be permitting new connections.

Details of the extent of the problem were revealed after discussions between the relevant authorities and East Antrim UUP MLAs Roy Beggs and John Stewart.

In a statement to the Larne Times this week, Mr Beggs said: “At a recent meeting with the Permanent Secretary, the Department for Infrastructure and NI Water officials confirmed that the existing public sewerage within the catchment area of Larne Waste Water Treatment is operating above the design capacity and NI Water will not be permitting new sewerage connection with addition sewerage loading.

“I am surprised that the relatively new Larne treatment works has reached full capacity already.

“This decision will add significantly to the cost of building new homes in Larne as new developments would have to build their own private waste water treatment works which could subsequently be passed over to NI Water.”

These concerns were echoed by Mr Stewart, who has been in correspondence with NI Water too about the plant.

He said: “It is now up to NI Water to come up with a solution to this major failure, but as it stands, any new housing development is not going to be given permission to connect to the public sewerage system in Larne.

“What effect this will have on the price of a house remains to be seen.

“What is clear is that this failure to plan for the future will have serious repercussions for house building and economic growth in the Larne area.”

Responding to the claims, NI Water stated it has approximately £60 million to address schemes in waste water treatment works. That equates to funding to address 19 schemes out of a possible 71. The actual cost of addressing all the schemes would be in the region of £200million.

NI Water added: “As a government owned company (GoCo) and a non-departmental public body (NDPB), NI Water is not immune from public expenditure cuts and uncertainty over funding. This places progress on efficiencies at risk and could result in tangible impacts on service delivery, the local economy and the environment.

“NI Water’s PC15 business plan started from a constrained capital expenditure position with £990m of public expenditure budget available against a requirement for £1.7bn. Further public expenditure cuts over PC15 mean that around £55m of projects will not be delivered.

“The existing public sewerage network within the Larne catchment is currently operating above design capacity and after consulting with our environmental regulators Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), NI Water are not currently approving new connections to the existing public sewerage network. New connections will only be considered where the applicant can demonstrate like for like development or reduced loading from the proposed sewage discharge. Investment in upgrading the sewerage system is subject to available funding and prioritisation with NI Water’s regulators.”

Meanwhile, a Department for Infrastructure spokesman said correspondence on this issue was received from Mr Beggs on August 29, 2018 and it will be responding to him “in due course”.