§ Angela Smith
There is presently no waste water treatment facility in Larne. Untreated waste water from the town's combined sewerage system is discharged into the estuary of Larne Lough through short outfalls at Blackcave and Sandy Bay. This practice is unacceptable in today's environment and improved facilities need to be provided.
Plans for the provision of treatment facilities for the area are well developed and include the construction of a new works to treat the waste water from Larne and the surrounding communities of Ballygalley, Drains Bay, Glynn and Magheramorne. The new works will be designed to comply with current legislation, including the Bathing Water and Urban Waste Water Treatment Directives. These Directives apply the same standards of treatment in Northern Ireland as are applied in the rest of the UK and throughout the European Union.
The current proposals include a housed compact waste water treatment plant within the town on land reclaimed from Redlands Lagoon. Treatment is to include primary and secondary treatment. Current proposals can accommodate a further stage of treatment should it be necessary to meet the consent standards set. The proposed works will be procured on a design and build basis to a strict performance specification and a short-list of contractors deemed to be competent to undertake this project has been set up. However, the invitation to tender is conditional on full planning approval being given. A planning application 982W for the waste water treatment works has been submitted and a decision from Planning Service is awaited. Larne borough council are still considering this planning application, but it is hoped to get their agreement in the near future. Environment and Heritage Service has proposed more stringent effluent quality standards and treatment of a higher proportion of storm flows, in accordance with their proposed new environmental policy for coastal waters, the Northern Ireland Coastal and Estuarine Waters Classification System (NICEWCS). Water Service is currently engaged in discussions with Environment and Heritage Service to agree appropriate discharge consent standards to meet all of the regulatory standards. In order that the planning application may proceed, Planning Service has arranged for agreement between EHS and Water Service on the effluent standards to be a condition on planning approval, and approval on this basis is expected shortly.
Subject to the resolution of these matters, construction of the new waste water treatment works for Larne is scheduled to commence in September 2003. It will take two years to complete at an estimated cost of around £10 million.