Officials want people to suggest locations for a new sewage treatment works in the west of the island.
The call comes after the planning committee refused permission for Manx Utilities’ preferred site at Glenfaba House, just south of Peel.
That decision came as a blow to Manx Utilities, which had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on the proposal and had already bought and knocked down Glenfaba House in preparation.
Manx Utilities this week asked for suggestions for sites in the Peel, St John’s and the Central Valley areas.
In a similar situation, the authority also lost a planning battle for sewage works in Laxey. Its bid for a facility near the harbour was rejected and Manx Utilities has since asked people for suggestions for alternative sites there too.
It is seeking suggestions for sites suitable primarily for a sewage treatment works to serve Peel and possibly also St John’s.
Sites for pumping stations between Peel and Douglas in the Central Valley are also being sought but would be needed only if a local solution could not be found, or in the event that this option was more cost-effective than local treatment.
This is part of a full re-appraisal of options for the Peel area, which will include investigations into the viability of pumping into the established IRIS scheme at Meary Veg, the treatment plant in Santon.
OVERVIEW OF IRIS
Established in 1992, the original plan was to have an all-island sewage system. However, this was abandoned in 2009.
IRIS (Integration and Recycling of the Island’s Sewage) currently sees water from homes in Port Erin, Port St Mary, Castletown, Derbyhaven, Douglas and Onchan, treated at the Meary Veg works in Santon.
The abandonment of an all-island approach in favour of a regional strategy for the north and west was done largely for financial reasons.
The cost of constructing treatment facilities had fallen while the cost of pumping sewage had risen during the 1990s.
The problem as it stands today is that some raw sewage is being pumped straight into the sea, notably in Peel and Laxey.
In February of this year, new environmental quality standards were criticised by retired Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture scientist Dr Calum MacNeil, who was a freshwater biologist and environmental protection officer there until September 2017.
He said in February: ’I regard it as legally and morally perverse if DEFA/IoM government attempts to depart from EU environmental quality standards which have already defined safe levels to protect the environment and human health.’
Landowners and others are now invited to contact MUA to express their interest.
MU chairman Tim Baker MHK said: ’This is a further example of Manx Utilities seeking to ensure we have fully considered how best to resolve the island’s remaining sewage treatment issues.
’We remain committed to providing a solution that will bring an end to the disposal of raw sewage into Peel Bay.
’The "call for sites" process is now being utilised in Peel, as in Garff, and will ensure that we have explored all potential site options to enable us to deliver on our promises as soon as possible.’
Peel and Glenfaba MHK Ray Harmer said: ’I think it’s a really important step now that the planning application is submitted next year. It’s really important to have a sewage treatment works for the west.
’Within the original 1982 development plan, there is no site for a sewage works and one of the issues is that within the planning process you follow certain rules.
’They now allow it, but it would have been better to have done that before. I know there was some limitations to some of the sites - but it’s made clear what sites are available. For me, it’s really important to make this happen.’
Peel commissioner Ian Davison said: ’My preferred options are the fields behind the power station in Peel, and they were the chosen area initially for the site. ’I think for Central Valley to join Meary Veg is a bit "up in the clouds" - I think it’s been found that it’s not cost effective as part of the old IRIS scheme.
’As far as St John’s or Patrick goes, I think Peel’s waste would be best to stay within the boundaries of Peel.
’All of the infrastructure that’s been put in at the present time was agreed before the application was withdrawn from the Department of Infrastructure.
’In my opinion the best site would be one of the fields next to the area that they’re already using for the waste for the silt from the harbour.
’It’s imperative to Peel that we have an up-to-date sewage system as soon as possible. It is the biggest issue within the town.’