Wastepipe Issue Pits Neighbours Against Dairy Gold

By Seamus Whelehan


Residents in East Cork living along the route of a proposed 14-kilometre pipe carrying treated wastewater containing fats oils and grease, continue to raise environmental concerns.
Last month an Bord Pleanala granted permission for a multimillion Euro development at Mogeely, which will see the facility become an international centre of excellence for cheese development.
Part of the plan is to construct a pipe running from Mogeely through to Rathcoursey West, known locally as the head of the ferry, where it will connect to an outfall pipe.
It’s estimated that almost 3 million litres of effluent will be discharged into East Ferry daily.
The outfall is located between two protected sites for migratory birds. One to the north of the pipe, along the northern shores of the Great Island. The second just beyond East Ferry to the south at Saleen creek.
Residents have long argued that the discharge will have a major impact on the unique ecology of the area.
Charlie Hayes an East Ferry resident who has long campaigned against the proposed route said a number of property owners living along the planned pipe line have lodged an objection with the Co-operative last month stating the plan is a looming risk to the health of the river.
Their properties extend to the centre of the public roadway under which the proposed pipeline will run.
While the ownership of the road is split between land owners on either side, Cork County Council and Irish water would have a right to carry out works, however a private company would not have an equivalent right.
In that letter, they asked Dairygold to consider whether as a private company it has a right to run a pipeline through areas covered by their property folios and, if so, that the company lay down the basis of this right.
The owners also asked the Company to confirm that, in the absence of valid authority, it will not lay any pipeline within the confines of their property folios.
Cork Harbour and Rathcoursey, East Ferry are significantly important areas for sea bass. The species is currently protected under EU law, as its numbers have fallen below safe biological levels due to overfishing.
Dairygold have continually argued that the effluent will be released during Ebb tides with the water undergoing an 80% exchange, so a significant discharge event will meet new water coming in.
Currently Dairygold have a licence for particular discharge limits into the Kiltha River, at the Rathcoursey site they will be tied to more stringent discharge levels.
The dairy board intend to construct a new wastewater treatment plant on site in Mogeely to deal with the food grade waste.
Dairygold have saide they will be careful to be good stewards of the environment by treating the waste prior to dispersal.
Water that does not meet the limits specified by the Environmental Protection Agency will not discharge and will be returned for further processing.
The effluent they say is classified as grey water and therefore of sufficient quality to be ideal for use in horticulture and irrigation.
The expansion project in Mogeely forms part of the company’s Brexit proofing strategy as it looks to diversify its portfolio finding new routes to market.
300 million litres of Dairygold’s 1.3billion litres of milk supply is destined to the UK cheddar cheese market annually.
The Dairy Co-operative’s CEO Jim Woulfe says however the UK may still be prove to be the most profitable market for the dairy sector.
In April the Dairy Co-Operative recorded operating profits of €32.4million for 2017 an increase of €17.5million on the previous year.