Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Works Extension – Introduction

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image of Dublin Bay

Statutory responsibility for the Ringsend Waste Water Treatment Works [WwTW] Extension Project transferred from Dublin City Council to a new statutory body ‘Irish Water’ on 1st January 2014.  Following a review of the project, Irish Water is developing an alternative strategy for the expansion of the Ringsend WwTW.  This strategy involves the upgrading and expansion of the plant to provide for nutrient removal in accordance with the plant’s current discharge authorisation licence. As a consequence both procurement competitions [OJEU/TED Refs: 2012/S 248-410199; 2013/S 040-063884] for the previously approved project (the combination of a long sea outfall from, and an expansion in secondary treatment capacity) at the Ringsend WwTW have been cancelled. 

Irish Water will shortly be progressing proposals for the revised project in order to apply for the necessary statutory approval (or modification to existing approval) it requires to fully implement same.  Irish Water will shortly be establishing its own website for the project and measures to keep interested parties informed (e.g. via email subscription).  If/when these changes arise notice will be posted on this webpage and circulated to the Dublin City Council email subscription list which may be closed on or after that date.   Interested parties are also recommended to monitor Irish Water’s own website’s projects section on [http://www.water.ie] for information posted there.

Dublin City Council is moving towards the proposed completion of the final phase of  the Dublin Bay Project.

This Project aims to extend the  Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Works to its full intended capacity and also to end the discharge of treated water  at the Liffey River Estuary, moving it instead to a new point further offshore.

The proposed new offshore location would be  approximately 9 kilometres out from the Poolbeg Peninsula and would take advantage of improved dilution and dispersion due to greater water depths and stronger tidal currents. It would also be further away from Dublin’s bathing waters and wildlife sanctuaries.

Building on the successes of the earlier phases of the Dublin Bay Project, this would further improve the value of the bay and estuary as cherished public amenities.

Why is it being done?

In the future, it is intended that wastewater from the Greater Dublin area will be treated at the extended Ringsend Plant as well as at a new plant being planned in North County Dublin. Both projects are part of the Greater Dublin Drainage Initiative. This initiative is about providing long term sustainable wastewater drainage and treatment for the Greater Dublin Area.  It aims to provide the required drainage infrastructure to allow the Greater Dublin Area to continue to develop, both socially and economically into the future.

What will happen at Ringsend?

It’s intended that the Ringsend Plant will be extended to achieve the maximum capacity possible on the existing site. It’s current capacity is 1.6 million population equivalent (P.E) and this phase would aim to raise this by a further 500,000 to 2.1 million P.E. while still producing treated water of the same high quality and dispersing it through a new long sea outfall tunnel under the seabed to a discharge point 9 kilometres offshore.

This approach is considered by the Project Team as the most sustainable of all the available alternatives; it will use less energy, fewer chemicals, and produce less sludge to be treated and disposed. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions are much reduced. The outfall discharge will also be future-proofed by considering the potential rise in sea level over its projected 100 year life.

Environmental Impact Studies have determined that providing secondary treatment with an ocean outfall discharge would be the most beneficial option for the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment Works Extension.  All potential impacts have been assessed and appropriate mitigation measures specified. 

Grant of Project Consent

On 13th April 2012 last, Dublin City Council lodged an application for consent with An Bord Pleanala for the Ringsend Waste Water Treatment Works [WwTW] Extension Project under Section 226 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000-2011.  This application included an Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] and an Appropriate Assessment [AA] in respect of the project.  Following an Oral Hearing held in September, An Bord Pleanala granted consent to Dublin City Council for the project on 16th November 2012 subject to 16 conditions.  The decision by An Bórd Pleanála can be obtained at the following link:

Application for Dumping at Sea Permit

On the 6th December 2012 Dublin City Council made an application to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for a Dumping at Sea Permit, in accordance with Section 5 of the Dumping at Sea Acts 1996 to 2010.  This application was for the disposal of spoil arising from the construction of the Long Sea Outfall Tunnel [LSOT] element of the Ringsend WwTW Extension Project.  A period of public consultation on the application commenced on the 20th December 2012 and ended on the 31st January 2013.

On 3rd December 2013 the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht published notice of his intention to propose an area known as “Rockabill to Dalkey Island” as a candidate Special Area of Conservation [cSAC] under the ‘European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011’. The publication of this proposal was made as Dublin City Council was in the process of lodging its application with the EPA. In this regard Dublin City Council noted in the cover letter to its application that it intended updating the ‘Screening for an Appropriate Assessment’ report submitted with its application and would resubmit same together with a ‘Natura Impact Statement’ [NIS] if found to be required.  Following a review of the ‘Screening for an Appropriate Assessment’ in light of the newly proposed cSAC, it was concluded that an Appropriate Assessment was indeed required and a full NIS needed to be prepared. Given the significant scope of this work, Dublin City Council was not in a position to complete and to submit the updated Screening Report and NIS until shortly after the Public Consultation Period had concluded on 31st January 2013. 

Unfortunately, and unlike the normal planning process, there is no statutory mechanism under ‘Dumping at Sea’ legislation providing for the advertisement of significant new additional information in respect of a previously submitted application nor to provide for any new or extended period of public consultation in respect of same.  Accordingly, by letter dated 4th April 2013, the EPA advised Dublin City Council that its application was considered incomplete and should be withdrawn. On foot of this request, Dublin City Council withdrew its application of 6th December 2012 by letter dated 16th April 2013.  A decision on whether or not to resubmit an application for a Dumping at Sea Permit has not yet been taken by Dublin City Council.

For information, the original (withdrawn) application and all associated correspondence and submissions may still be viewed and/or downloaded from the EPA’ website at the following link: