22nd July 2009
Department responds to misleading Press Release from Marine Conservation Society
The Department is disappointed with today’s results of the bathing water quality issued by the Marine Conservation Society, and the Society’s factually incorrect comments about the IRIS Sewage Treatment Scheme.
The MCS claims that the IRIS Sewage Treatment Plant at Meary Veg, which came online in 2004 and which now treats 67% of the Island’s population, is ‘not delivering the bathing water quality improvements’ that MCS expected of a facility ‘costing £170 million’.
Minister for Transport, David Anderson MHK, said:
‘There was no attempt made by the MCS to contact either the Department’s Drainage Division, or indeed the Environmental Protection Unit at the Department of Local Government and the Environment, to obtain any comment or to check any of the “facts”.
‘For a start, expenditure on IRIS to date is £88m, not £170m. It is true that the north and west of the Island have not yet been connected to IRIS, but this is being addressed by the IRIS Regional Strategy which the Department is progressing at the moment.
‘Prior to Meary Veg coming online in 2004, the failure rate of our beaches, when looking at the mandatory cleanliness levels set out by the EU’s Bathing Water Directive, was 54%. Today, that rate is 27%. Those percentages relate to the Island as a whole. However, beaches in the south and west have performed better in the last five years than the Island average, and taking these statistics into account, we are happy that IRIS is delivering.’
The Minister added:
‘Another factor that needs taking into account was the heavy rainfall last summer, which was the wettest for 16 years. Heavy rainfall results in land run-off from fields bringing contaminants into rivers, and this could affect the result of any water quality tests.’
Meanwhile, the Department has approved the IRIS Regional Sewage Treatment Strategy reports and it is planned that these reports will be submitted to Tynwald in July.
Minister Anderson explained:
‘We fully briefed the local media on the IRIS Regional Strategy in autumn last year, so there should be no confusion as to where we are in terms of the overall scheme. Environmental studies are already underway, the results of which will be compiled into Environmental Statements to be submitted in support of the planning applications for the various schemes.
‘Subject to the necessary planning approvals being obtained, it is hoped that the whole of the IRIS Regional Sewage Treatment Strategy will be complete by 2015. We are confident that our improving bathing quality results will be further enhanced when the whole Island comes online.’