THE Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Environment Committee, Deputy Ciaran Lynch has accepted a Bord na Mona invitation to inspect the Garryhinch site for the development first hand.
The Environment Committee will now be fully briefed by Bord na Mona officials in the coming weeks before the entire committee come to Portarlington to view the location in person and fully familiarise themselves with the proposal on the ground.
Senator John Whelan said the visit shows that the plan by Bord na Mona to build a resevoir on cutaway bog at Garryhinch, Portarlington is continuing to gather momentum.
“The project is finally starting to get traction politically as it is seen as a progressive and cost effective way to solve the countries dwindling water suppply issue.
“This is a visionary and forward thinking strategy by Bord na Mona for which they are to be commended. I have now taken up the project with the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan and Minsiter for Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte and both are very impressed and keen to see the project progressed. There is also considerable support developing for my suggestion that Bord na Mona should be designated responsibility as the water utility so as to avoid the unnecessary cost of setting up a costly new quango. They could work in tandem with the local authorities which are already in situ and provide a valuable service to the community within exisiting structures. It would also mean that a valuable and strategic resource such as water remains in public control and owenership,” said Senator Whelan.
He said he has also held discussions with other colleagues such as Jack Wall and Minister Willie Penrose who are concerned about looming water shortages throughout the Leinster region and they too are supportive of the considerable job creation potential of the Bord na Mona resevoir and eco-park project.
“The potential for jobs in water leisure sports activities, eco-tourism and the operation of the resevoir and treatmant facility would be immense for Laois-Offaly. There would be 1,000 jobs for four years in the construction phase alone.
“This project is economincally sensible and viable and environmentally sound. It will be the first resevoir built in the country in over 60 years. If we don’t go ahead with this resevoir we will be forced to ration water on a daily basis and no one will thank the Govt for that and the loss of job creation it would entail,” said the Laois Offaly Senator.