Plans for sewage plant on iconic Kilkee cliff walk causing a stink

Locals say the cliff walk in Kilkee is under threat from the planned waste water treatment plant. Photo: Google Maps.

A HUGELY popular natural amenity for Limerick holiday makers, homeowners, and daytrippers, as well as a major part of the local tourism industry in a County Clare coastal town, is under threat, it has been claimed.

Locals of Kilkee are deeply concerned about a planning application from Uisce Éireann for a waste water treatment plant on the route of the iconic cliff walk, used by thousands of tourists every year.

Martin Busher, one of around 30 residents of the Dunlicky Road in Kilkee, told the Limerick Post that he wants Limerick people to take careful note of the proposal (planning number 2460002) as it will affect everyone who has property there or enjoys visiting the seaside town.

The closing date for submissions on the plan with Clare County Council is February 6.

“Kilkee depends on tourism and the top attraction for tourists on Tripadvisor is the cliff walk.

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“There are 914 people living in Kilkee according to the last census and that rises to 20,000 during summer. We don’t have to prove we’re a tourism destination,” Mr Busher said.

“This plant will be about 120 meters from the cliff walk path and it will be clearly visible. Planting screening won’t help. It’s not something you see in this area, there isn’t a bush or tree anywhere from Kilkee to Loop Head.

“We understand the need and the requirement for a plant in Kilkee, which will ensure compliance with EU and national regulations in relation to wastewater as one of the named towns in Ireland still pumping raw untreated sewage into the sea,” the local man admitted. “But even the emergency plan for this facility is flawed – no facility should include a backup plan that involves overspilling onto the land and polluting the environment”.

Residents are also concerned that the plant may also bring health issues to the area as its design is of primary filtration only, with two large open clarifier tanks holding the contents of the town’s sewage.

“There has been no public consultation on the matter and locals first became aware when the planning notice was put in place. Our aim is to make people aware of the planning proposal and feed suitable submissions to the Clare County Council, who will make the final decision on the application.”

A spokesperson for Uisce Éireann said that the water company hosted a briefing on the project with elected representatives in 2022.

“The new sewage infrastructure will improve water quality in the receiving waters at Intrinsic Bay, in compliance with national and EU regulations relating to the treatment of wastewater.

“It will also enhance the environmental amenity of Kilkee, protecting recreational swimming, fishing, boating, and sightseeing waters, and allow for the provision of social and economic development and future growth within the Kilkee area.”

The Uisce Éireann spokesman went on to say that “in 2014, there were 50 locations nationwide where raw sewage was being discharged without treatment. By the end of 2023, over 70 per cent of raw sewage discharges were eliminated through targeted investment in new sewerage infrastructure where none existed previously.”

“We are on target to eliminate nearly all of the remainder by 2025 with an investment of over €750million”.