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NI Water Questioned by Councillor Willie Clarke Over Planning Objection
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NEWCASTLE Sinn Féin Councillor Willie Clarke has written to the Chief Executive of NI Water, Trevor Haslett, to seek clarity, in relation to NI Water’s position of objecting to planning applications in the Newcastle area.

He said this issue is causing considerable anxiety and financial pressure on business’s trying to expand tourist related business such as cafes, bars and restaurants and accommodation providers.

Councillor Clarke said: “Applications are being refused on the grounds that the Waste Water Treatment Works which serves Newcastle is currently at capacity and would not therefore be capable of servicing development.

“As an elected representative this places me in a very difficult position, due to the fact that we were assured there would be no objections from NI Water to planning applications because the Castle Park holding tank is completed and work is on schedule for the extension of the waste treatment works in Newcastle.

“NIW Chief ExecutiveTrevor Haslett has responded to my correspondence by stating, “In order to lift any control on development as a result of concern over adequate treatment capacity N I Water work to a two year window of completing a project of work that would resolve a development problem.  Any negative responses are removed apart from the normal planning constraints that may be applied to any specific site.’

“This would have been the situation applied to Newcastle where both the Sewerage Network and Wastewater Treatment Works Upgrades are within this two year completion timeframe.  However, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) have stipulated that they wish the present development constraint to remain until reviewed following the 2012 bathing season due to the sensitivities of the location.

“Consequently the position that has been maintained in agreement with NIEA is that new connections to the sewer will not be recommended by Northern Ireland Water except for those where previous commitment has been given, (e.g. extant planning approvals) like for like development, and any proposal that reduces the loading on the sewer.

“The Bathing Season finished on 15 September 2012 and NI Water will be requesting a reassessment of the NIEA stipulation.

“Mr Haslett has assured me that NI Water will keep me informed of the outcome of these discussions as soon as any outcome is known,”  added Councillor Clarke.