Members backed committing a further £16.9m to completing the island’s regional sewage treatment strategy, which replaced the unfeasible IRIS scheme. This takes the total cost of the whole scheme for regional sewage to £40.5m.
Chairman of Manx Utilities Rob Callister said he was ‘delighted’ to be bringing the motion to Tynwald, something which could no doubt come back to bite him if the work is not done during the life of this administration.
The Onchan MHK also outlined that pumping from either location to Meary Veg in Santon would be more expensive, though this continues to be disputed by some.
While we know that the Peel site will be located in a field between Glenfaba Road and the River Neb, Manx Utilities has been tightlipped about its plans for Garff.
This was referenced by MHK Daphne Caine this week as she accused Manx Utilities of ‘being secretive’ about its plans.
Mrs Caine said: ‘We also do not have the benefit of seeing the environmental impact assessment as that is considered sensitive until it goes forward as part of the planning application. I do find that baffling.’
She went on to say that she didn’t believe the scheme is right for Garff or Peel and sought members’ support to acknowledge a need to end the dumping of raw sewage while asking CoMin to appoint external independent advisers to examine the scheme, including looking at pumping to Meary Veg.
However, her amendment failed to garner enough support, despite Mr Callister mistakenly voting for it.
Stu Peters (Middle) ultimately did vote for the scheme, but said he found it ‘unacceptable’ that members were being asked to commit more public funds to fixing regional sewage.
In the end, only Mrs Caine voted against the scheme.
This will no doubt come as a surprise to residents as before last year’s election fellow Garff MHK Andrew Smith said ‘the best solution for Laxey’ was pumping the sewage to Port Jack where it would link into the IRIS scheme.
Speaking in Tynwald, Mr Smith said: ‘The current proposal, which has been fully evaluated, is a solution which will terminate the remaining raw sewage discharge into the bathing waters of our island.
‘We have already had the input of at least 20 independent consultants and two parliamentary scrutiny committees. I am knee-deep in… (cue laughter from members) reports and paperwork. Based on the plethora of information available, I now find it difficult to substantiate any further costs or time delays to allow for even more protracted external expert evaluation.’