2 - Environmental Policy

Minutes of Strategic Policy Committee 2 Workshop on Source Protection Plans held on Tuesday 1st July, 2008 at 3pm in the Conference Room, Development Centre, Cleveragh Road, Sligo.


CATHAOIRLEACH: 

  • Councillor Jim McGarry.


IN ATTENDANCE: 

  • Mr. B. Queenan,
  • Councillor P. Conmy,
  • Councillor M. Fleming,
  • Councillor G. Mullaney,
  • Councillor A. Higgins,
  • Councillor J. McGarry,
  • Councillor M. Barrett,
  • Councillor R. O’Grady.


OFFICIALS IN ATTENDANCE: 

  • Ms. Rita McNulty, Director of Services
  • Ms. Eithne Garvin, Administrative Officer
  • Mr. Paul Hampson, Senior Executive Engineer
  • Ms. Pamela Bergin, Acting Senior Executive Scientist
  • Mr. Enda Killoran, Acting Assistant Scientist
  • Ms. Mairead Scanlon, Assistant Staff Officer.


It was proposed by Councillor Conmy and seconded by Councillor Higgins that Councillor Michael Fleming take the chair until the arrival of Councillor McGarry.

INTRODUCTION: 

Rita McNulty welcomed the SPC members and outlined the aims of the Water Framework Directive, where the Source Protection Plans fit into the current framework of water protection in the county and the risks associated with Cryptosporidium and the importance of providing safe and secure drinking water supplies to the general public.
 
 Enda Killoran gave a presentation on the main elements of the Source Protection Plans for Public Water Supply Schemes in Lough Easkey, Lough Arrow and North Sligo. The purpose of the presentation was to outline the policies contained in the Source Protection
 
 Following the presentation the members present raised a number of issues.

  1. Councillor Fleming queried if there would be different policies for the different catchment areas under discussion.
     
     He was informed that all of the water sources are at risk and the aim should be to have uniform policies and standards that would be equally applied in the catchment areas of the various water sources.
  2. Councillor Higgins had some reservations in relation to the policies such as Byelaws, fencing, development within the catchments and the overall costs involved. He outlined that Councillors are often in the position of balancing protection of the environment and the requirements of the public for one off housing etc. 
  3. Councillor Barrett raised the issue of cryptosporidium and the risks for the Lough Easkey supply and asked how we bring down the level of risk.

    Pamela stated that the Water Services Section have requested tenders for the provision of monitoring equipment at various water treatment plants throughout the County. The importance of turbidity monitoring was outlined. It was outlined that the plans are not solely geared towards activities in the catchments but also place obligations on L.A. regarding the operation, maintenance and monitoring of water treatment plants. 
  4. Councillor Barrett enquired if we were looking at Forestry operations and the issue of Coillte restoring the view in the Owenaher catchment (Ladies Brae).

    In reply Enda said the forestry policies were focused on protection of water quality in particular. 
  5. Councillor Mullaney and Councillor Higgins expressed concern in relation to the one off housing issue, reference was made in particular to Ballintogher which is described in the County Development Plan as an ‘Area under urban influence’ and as a result of this some landowners cannot sell sites.
  6. Councillor Fleming outlined that he understood the need to protect drinking water supplies and that it is a massive job to sell the whole idea of source protection to landowners and the general public.
  7. Brendan Queenan outlined how difficult it is to have safe and secure water supplies and the difficultly of complying with the drinking water regulations. He also outlined his concerns in relation to fencing off large areas of land making them redundant.
    Enda outlined that the emphasis in the plans was on limiting access to watercourses by livestock in consultation with landowners. It is not proposed to limit the direct use of land. 
  8. Councillor Mullaney said that farmers’ rights have to be protected and that there should be some form of incentive on offer to them. He outlined that protection of water supplies is a very important issue. He outlined that we need to bring farmers along with protection of water quality and promote and encourage participation in REPS. He requested more specific details in the plans regarding how we propose to achieve this.

    He also outlined concerns regarding the issue of one-off houses. He also stressed the need to involve the local community groups and the IFA in any local liaison group set up as part of the measures outlined in the Plans.

    Councillor Mullaney expressed concern in relation to the prohibited Landspreading periods in the Good Agricultural Practice Regulations.

    Enda outlined that as it currently stands these are national regulations which are legally binding and local authorities are obliged to enforce them. The regulations may be amended in the future in line with updated scientific information.
  9. Councillor Fleming asked what progress had been made in relation to the three previous plans that were brought before the council.

    Enda outlined that the Kilsellagh reservoir has been fenced as part of reservoir improvement works and some fencing has been carried out in the Calry Catchment following consultations with landowners.

    The Calry supply will be connected to Kilsellagh P.W.S.S in the near future. Monitoring is being carried out in a number of the source catchments. Pamela outlined that some fencing had been carried out in the North Sligo Source catchment in the vicinity of the raw water abstraction point.

    Advice booklets have been prepared in relation to agriculture and septic tank systems.
  10. Paul Hampson outlined that the EPA can direct the local authority to carry out corrective measures to protect water supplies, this could include then issuing a direction to prepare source protection plans. To conclude, Paul requested that the SPC members outline what modifications they would like to see to the plans.
  11. The Members suggested that the wording in the Source Protection Plans be changed in relation to:
    1. Development policy: This should be changed to comply with the requirements of the EPA manual 2000.
    2. The plans be more specific about the fencing and access issues.
    3. The plans be more specific about how we propose to promote the REPS scheme.
    4. The plans should detail who should be involved in the local liaison groups.


 Following discussion it was agreed to hold the next Environment SPC meeting on the 10th of September at 11.00a.m.

Councillor Jimmy McGarry brought the workshop to a close.


Meeting Date 01/07/2008