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A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015 A REVIEW OF INFRASTRUCTURE IN IRELAND

www.engineersireland.ie WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 1

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

As the professional body for engineers and engineering in Ireland, Engineers Ireland represents almost 24,000 members drawn from every discipline of engineering. We have been representing the engineering profession since 1835. As one of the oldest and largest professional bodies in Ireland, Engineers Ireland is an invaluable resource in providing professional expertise to the benefit of all sections of Irish society. Our members are vital to the conception, construction, maintenance and development of all key areas of infrastructure in Ireland.

AbbreviAtions CCGT:

Combined cycle gas turbine

DSL:

Digital subscriber loop

MBT:

Mechanical biological treatment

CHP:

Combined heat and power

EPA:

Environmental Protection Agency

MVA:

MegaVolt-Ampere

DAA:

Dublin Airport Authority

GDP:

Gross domestic product

DECLG:

DEHLG:

MW:

Megawatts

OCGT:

Open cycle gas turbine

Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government

GHG:

Greenhouse gases

IAA:

Irish Aviation Authority

Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

kV:

KiloVolt

RX3:

Rethink, recycle, remake

Mbps

Megabits per second

UFW:

Unaccounted for water

2 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

OPW:

Office of Public Works

RAL:

Remedial action list

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

director GenerAl’s foreword

contents

2015

This is the fifth in an annual series of independent reports on Ireland’s infrastructure.

Proper infrastructure is essential for any

of Irish people. This report is the expert

nation’s competitiveness and success. By

opinion of experienced engineers from

definition, any infrastructure is economic

across a number of disciplines and

infrastructure, as it is the internal facilities

industries. The advice is intended to inform

of a country that enhance the lives of its

those who make investment decisions about

citizens, be it in a private or business

infrastructure in Ireland, including public

capacity. The annual ‘State of Ireland’

servants and private investors. Our aim is to

report focuses on the performance,

stimulate debate on Ireland’s future and to

capability and condition of Ireland’s key

recommend actions vital to the prosperity of

infrastructure networks.

Irish society while informing the general

When Engineers Ireland published the first

public as well.

‘State of Ireland’ report in 2011, the Irish

I would like to thank those who took the time

economy was at probably its lowest point

to contribute to this year’s report.

since the early 1980s. The country was

This report allows our diverse membership

limited by the financial constraints put in

to come together to utilise their knowledge

place by the Troika and investment in

and experience to provide comment on

infrastructure was curtailed.

policy that affects us all.

Abbreviations

2

Director General’s Foreword

3

Why Infrastructure Matters

4

Grading System

4

Key Recommendations

6

Energy

8

Five years later, as the economy begins to show welcome signs of recovery, a shortage of new homes in the capital has been identified. A recent report identified lands suitable for the development of 80,000 units, but a lack of infrastructure is holding back the construction of over two-thirds of these.

Transport

14

Water and Flooding

20

Waste

27

Communications

30

This is just one example of how a lack of investment in infrastructure can have a knock-on effect. While financial constraints were clearly unavoidable, other large development projects in Ireland have been delayed because the benefits of such infrastructure have not been adequately communicated. Long-term planning for sustainable economic development can only

John Power

help to increase our competitiveness as a

Chartered Engineer Director General

small nation and thereby improve the lives

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 3

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

why infrAstructure MAtters: irelAnd 2015 Almost every aspect of Irish life depends

drinking water; energy plants and gas

Indeed, history demonstrates that

on the quality of our infrastructure.

pipelines for heat and light; phone and

societies have become more and more

It is clear that productive infrastructural

broadband to connect us for global

dependent on the quality of their

development is central to economic

business, social and entertainment

infrastructure. It seems certain that this

prosperity. If Ireland is to prosper,

purposes; roads, rail and ports to deliver

dependence will continue to increase in

infrastructural development across every

the goods we buy and sell; and, a waste

the coming decades. The accelerating pace

aspect of the economy will be an essential

management network to recover

of change, as well as its sheer

part of the process.

renewable resources.

unpredictability, accentuates the challenge

Our prosperity and the future prospects of

Our island nation on the edge of the

in addressing infrastructural needs. The

our children depend on the continued

Atlantic has always been subject to

quest to maintain and develop the capacity

ability of this country to attract inward

extreme weather, but with increased

of infrastructure to meet the future needs

investment and to trade our goods and

incidences of severe flooding, coupled with

of Irish society is further sharpened by the

services internationally. In both cases, our

storm damage to electrical and

simultaneous need to address climate

competitiveness is paramount and is

communications networks, we have

change.

hugely dependent on the quality, efficiency

witnessed first hand just how vital robust

In the pursuit of a low-carbon society, the

and reliability of our infrastructure.

infrastructure is to the smooth running of

sustainability of infrastructure and the way

Aside from its economic importance,

modern Irish society. Failure to maintain

infrastructure can facilitate

infrastructure is the cornerstone of

and invest in vital infrastructural services

environmentally friendly initiatives at all

modern society. We rely upon treatment

can only increase Ireland’s vulnerability to

levels is of essential importance. This

plants and water mains to supply us with

disruptive events.

report provides an independent

GrAdinG systeM Analysis of key areas of infrastructure includes a straightforward grading system. engineers ireland has

A B

assessed each area of infrastructure using the following grades: 4 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

Well maintained, in good condition, appropriate capacity and planning for future development.

Acceptable standard, properly maintained, able to meet demand, though investment needed in the next five years.

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

assessment of what we need to do to

infrastructural programmes can be

investment and infrastructure projects last

protect and develop the sophisticated and

supported, no matter how desirable they

as long as it takes to complete a project

inter-dependent system upon which the

may be. However, some of our

and for as long as value is being created

people of Ireland rely.

infrastructure targets have been realised

thereafter.

When we published our first ‘State of

in the past five years and hopefully more

Capital investment projects can range

Ireland’ report in 2011, our ambition was

objectives will be reached as the country

from a few months in duration to several

to help to prioritise the productive

achieves prosperity once again.

years. There is also a multiplier effect that

infrastructure and projects that are most

Budget 2015 identified a capital

these projects have by facilitating further

critical to our future. Spending cuts have

investment programme of €3.5 billion and

job creation indirectly in other connected

affected all areas of Irish society since the

the Government is also committed to the

sectors of commerce.

inception of this report. Ireland is very

procurement of greater non-traditional

After a stagnant period, vital skills have

much reliant on the confidence of

funding sources for infrastructure via

been lost to the Irish construction industry

international markets and investors to

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).

through the absence of major

fund a programme of investment in some

Engineers Ireland acknowledges the

infrastructural projects.

of our national infrastructure and our

reality of the need to reduce public

This report is intended as our contribution

economic future.

expenditure and to continue reducing the

to the debate on building tomorrow’s

Engineers Ireland also recognises that,

deficit.

Ireland. It recognises the challenges

although the economy is growing, there

Nonetheless, capital investment is vital to

facing the country and sets out

are still very real demands on our fiscal

meet the Government’s desire to stimulate

fundamental steps which should be taken

resources, and for this reason not all

the economy. Jobs associated with capital

to meet those challenges.

C D E Inadequately maintained, and/or unable to meet peak demand, and requiring significant investment.

Below standard, poorly maintained, frequent inability to meet capacity and requiring immediate investment to avoid adverse impact on the national economy.

Unacceptable condition, insufficient capacity, and already impacting on the national economy.

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 5

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

Key recoMMendAtions 2015 well planned and

ENERGY

TRANSPORT

properly executed investment in infrastructure will yield a dividend for ireland. Overall grade

B

Overall grade

C

this outlay is essential for attracting inward investment in the future and for improving the quality of life of irish people.

12-Month Recommendations

n implement the lessons learnt to improve the public consultation process when

recommendations which engineers ireland believes are vital to the recovery

n Advance planning for Galway’s Eastern

North-South Interconnector to allow

n Improve road management systems

n Commence construction on the new

Bypass

energy transfers and bolster security of supply

n Connect the Corrib gas field to the national network

n Develop a solution for North Dublin and Dublin Airport rail

Five-Year Recommendations n Accelerate the prioritisation of

Five-Year Recommendations

n Continue to diversify Ireland’s energy

investment in infrastructure projects to increase Ireland’s competitiveness and address the unemployment challenge

n Progress planning process for port

sustainable sources as per the EU Renewable Energy and Fuel Quality

redevelopments in Cork and Galway

n Agree standards for data formats and

Directives

n Develop facilities to import liquefied

communication protocols for integrated

natural gas

n Increase the storage capacity of oil stocks to facilitate fuel switching from five to 30

traffic systems to enable information sharing

n Continue the integration of public transport services

days

and future prosperity

Sector

of ireland:

Electricity

B-

6 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

national road projects countrywide

planning energy infrastructure projects

sources to include a mix of fossil and

these are the key

12-Month Recommendations

n Progress funding mechanisms for delayed

Grade

Sector

Grade

Gas

B

Airports

B

Petroleum products

B

Road: Motorways

B-

Sea ports

C

Road: Other routes

D

Rail

D

Sustainable transport

D

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

WATER AND FLOODING

Overall grade

WASTE

C

Overall grade

12-Month Recommendations

n Determine the long-term funding model to ensure continued investment and improvements in the water supply network

n Eliminate the discharge of untreated sewage into Ireland’s natural waterways

n Complete the draft Flood Risk

COMMUNICATIONS

C

12-Month Recommendations n Ensure that new regulations are adequately enforced

n Deliver the new waste management plans

n Progress the construction of waste

recovery treatment capacity options that have acquired planning consent, including anaerobic digestion,

Management Plans for public

composting, waste to energy and

consultation

mechanical biological treatment facilities

Overall grade

B

12-Month Recommendations

n Specify the deadlines for completion of the National Broadband Plan

n Continue the roll-out of the 4G and fibre networks nationwide to ensure the availability of high-speed broadband on a wider regional basis

n Reduce service costs when rates and speeds are not equal in rural/urban areas

Five-Year Recommendations Five-Year Recommendations

n Reduce unaccounted for water (UFW) from 50% to 38% nationally

Five-Year Recommendations

n Put in place the correct mix of waste capacity infrastructure to manage

n Develop action plans to address

non-hazardous and hazardous wastes

wastewater works that are causing river pollution

n Implement the Flood Risk Management Plans from 2016

n Roll out the organic waste collection

n Continue to reduce broadband costs across business and domestic services

n Achieve universal high-speed broadband to a substantial part of the State by 2016 through the continued development of the

system to households and businesses in

next generation networks as well as

line with statutory thresholds to allow

mobile services

further development of biological

n Ireland’s national and regional broadband

treatment capacities including anaerobic

infrastructure should be in the top five of

digestion

European league tables in terms of

n Work with third-level institutes to develop

availability, uptake and speed by 2016

waste and resource management

Sector

Grade

modules as part of civil and

Water supply

C

environmental engineering courses to

Water quality

C

ensure that this area is serviced with

Wastewater

D

appropriately educated graduates

Flooding

D

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 7

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

ENERGY A secure energy infrastructure with adequate energy networks and storage facilities are essential for Ireland’s economy. Energy production, transmission and storage are vital components of the energy infrastructure and are crucial for an integrated energy market. Developing its energy infrastructure to meet future requirements to reduce carbon emissions to acceptable national and EU targets presents a major challenge to the energy industry. Further, the basic matter of guaranteeing security of supply must also be addressed through planning and investment. The cost of providing reasonably priced energy is fundamental to our national competitiveness and job creation. Three major aspects of energy infrastructure are analysed here: electricity; natural gas; and, petroleum products.

ELECTRICITY

not expected to return until 2018. The

European Commission in February 2014. In

likelihood that economic growth will be

2012, Ireland’s gross final energy use from

lower in the near future than was previously

renewables was 7.1%. This needs to more

envisaged means that Ireland’s existing

than double to achieve the 2020 target of

electricity infrastructure is largely capable

16%. Electricity infrastructure in Ireland is,

of meeting short- and medium-term

on the whole, well maintained and safe,

demand. Growth in capacity to produce

meeting international standards. There has

renewable energy from wind continued in

been very substantial investment in

2014 with an installed capacity on the island

Ireland’s power generation facilities in the

Electricity is vital to virtually every aspect

of 2,889 megawatts. Under the EU’s

past ten years, with the result that existing

of people’s lives and to the economy,

20:20:20 strategy, however, Ireland has to

generation capacity is potentially sufficient

particularly with the development of the

supply 16% of its final energy consumption

to meet projected needs for the next

technology industry and, in the future, the

from renewable sources and, according to

decade.

transport sector. An increase in the use of

our own national policy, 40% of our

Nonetheless, based on national projections

indigenous resources for this electricity

electricity generation must come from

for 2020 targets, more flexible power

and the decarbonisation of same is critical

renewables by 2020. In January 2014 the

generation and electricity storage will be

to the medium- to long-term health of the

European Commission announced that it

needed to match the intermittency of

Irish economy.

would drop mandatory renewable targets

renewable electricity. Older, less efficient

for member states after 2020 but that a 27%

power generation plants should be retired

What is the current state of the infrastructure?

overall target for the EU would be

to allow new, more efficient plants to

maintained. Ireland submitted its second

operate on a cost-effective basis; this has

Given the sharp downturn in electricity

progress report on the National Renewable

been signalled by EirGrid in its Generation

demand, the levels experienced in 2008 are

Energy Action Plan (NREAP) to the

Capacity Statement.

8 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

OVERALL GRADE

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2015 12-MONTH

n implement the lessons learnt to improve

B

the public consultation process when

sources to include a mix of fossil and

planning energy infrastructure projects

sustainable sources as per the eu

n commence construction on the new north-south interconnector to allow energy

SECTOR GRADE Gas

B

Petroleum products

B

Electricity

B-

FIVE-YEAR

n continue to diversify ireland’s energy

transfers and bolster security of supply n connect the corrib gas field to the national network

renewable energy and fuel Quality directives n develop facilities to import liquefied natural gas n increase the storage capacity of oil stocks to facilitate fuel switching from five to 30 days

ireland’s electricity transmission network was

What does the future hold?

obstacles to overcome. ireland has the

constructed to meet relatively low transmission

to meet ireland’s 2020 targets, full support

advantage of access to wind, ocean and wave

requirements, with the exception of the

must be given to the better energy

energy resources, but the challenge is to

Moneypoint lines to dublin. the recent addition

Programme, the nreAP and the eirgrid

harness these resources and to integrate

of a considerable amount of wind-powered

2025 plan. in addition, the transition to

them into the existing infrastructure.

generation located in areas that are remote

sustainable financing mechanisms in the

operating a power system with very high

from population centres has changed the

domestic and non-domestic sectors must be

levels of wind generation presents particular

transmission requirements. Accordingly, a

progressed. with the addition of the refit 3

number of the low-capacity lines are now being

programme, which supports up to 310Mw of

upgraded. A €1 billion capital investment

biomass-fuelled combined heat and power

programme for the esb was approved by the

(chP) projects, this should contribute to the

Government in 2014. there are, however,

final 4,000Mws of renewable generation

locations in the country, particularly in the

capacity required to meet the 2020 40%

north west and south west, where the

target.

transmission network is relatively weak and is

there is now significant uncertainty

incapable of supporting either major industrial

as to both the direction and scale of

projects or major renewable energy

population movements in the

development at present. in some instances

coming decade, making it more

network development may be required to

difficult to anticipate how

precede confirmed generation demand and the

demographic change will

network owner must be permitted to be

contribute to infrastructure

proactive in this respect within regional

requirements. further, there have

planning policy. in general, ireland’s electricity

been very significant technical

infrastructure is capable of supporting current

advances in recent years, which

demand for electricity, but it will need to be

will contribute to reducing

significantly reinforced to provide a network

electricity demand and related

capable of supporting a more de-carbonised

emissions in the future, including

society. over 2,500km of major routes on the

developments in lighting,

island of ireland are now served by the electric

appliances, smart meters, smart

vehicle (ev) fast charging network.

homes and distributed generation. there are other

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 9

challenges to system stability that need to

economic climate, these decisions should be

for the common good. eirgrid’s review of its

be addressed. eirGrid and systems operator

reversed.

public consultation process is timely.

northern ireland (soni) have embarked

transmission and distribution systems must

the depletion of oil reserves, concerns about

upon a multi-year programme “delivering a

be operated and maintained to the highest

energy security and the environmental

secure, sustainable electricity system“ (the

standard. despite the cancellation of the

threat of greenhouse gases mean that

ds3 programme), which is designed to

ireland–uK Mou, the state must continue to

ireland cannot exclude consideration of

ensure that we can securely operate the

explore opportunities to develop the market

nuclear power in the longer term. indeed, if

power system with increasing amounts of

to export irish electricity to Great britain.

we do not see a nuclear power plant on the

variable non-synchronous renewable

in terms of investment requirements, the

island of ireland, we are likely to depend on

generation over the coming years.

new north-south interconnector, and other

nuclear power in some sense via

the renewable resources available in ireland

major transmission projects such as Grid

interconnector(s)

have opened up an opportunity to harness

west and Grid link, are important in

to the uK and europe.

these resources for exporting to other

facilitating ireland’s 2020 renewable energy

markets, most notably Great britain.

targets and in ensuring security of supply in

however, despite the Memorandum of

the longer term. further delays to these

understanding (Mou) signed by the Minister

projects should be avoided, but questions

for communications, energy and natural

regarding any technical issues should be

resources and the uK secretary for energy

answered clearly to address the

and climate change in 2013, plans to export

concerns of interested parties. the final

renewable energy from the wind turbines in

routes and transmission options

the midlands were shelved last year.

should be agreed and progressed. the planning process in ireland can

What actions do we need to take?

be especially challenging for the

Grants for energy conservation measures in

delivery of overhead transmission

industry were removed four years ago, while

lines, wind farms and other network

grants for insulation and home energy

assets. we must address planning issues

generation were reduced. with an improving

if we are to deliver infrastructure necessary

10 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

to meet ireland’s 2020 targets, full support must be given to the better energy Programme, the national renewable energy Action Plan and the eirgrid 2025 plan.

ireland, the pipeline to the west, the

that an efficient and robust regulatory

Galway-Mayo pipeline and the south–north

regime is in place to support ongoing

pipeline, there is now the potential to build

offshore exploration and to allow for the safe

out the low pressure distribution network

development of unconventional gas reserves

around these pipelines. there is adequate

which exist here.

spare capacity in the system to

A second key element is the development of

accommodate this and the capacity should

further gas storage facilities. At present

NATURAL GAS

be fully utilised given the improved

there is a single gas storage facility in

international outlook for both gas availability

ireland located off the south coast. this

One-third of Irish households and many

and prices.

facility has the capacity to store just under

commercial premises, schools, hospitals

the extension and development of gas

5% of ireland’s annual gas consumption,

and industries rely on gas for heating.

infrastructure in ireland has contributed

whereas the average strategic gas storage

While Ireland has a significant mix of coal,

substantially in helping to reduce carbon

capacity in mainland european countries is

oil and gas power plants available, gas has

emissions from ireland in the industrial,

20%. one would expect that the country at

become the fuel of choice due to its cost

commercial and residential sectors, but

the end of the pipeline would have the

competitiveness and low carbon emissions.

particularly in the power generation sector.

highest storage capacity and not the lowest.

What is the current state of the infrastructure?

What does the future hold?

What actions do we need to take?

one of the key missing elements is the

the national infrastructure is extensive

ireland’s gas infrastructure meets the best

completion of the corrib gas field project,

and major centres of population are well

international standards. this infrastructure

which is essential for ireland’s energy

supported by infrastructure. there are,

has adequate capacity to meet all

security as it has the potential to meet up to

however, a number of towns and areas in

projections of demand and is capable of

60% of ireland’s requirements at peak

cities that are not supplied with natural

supporting projected economic

production. first gas is due to flow from the

gas.

development. following the completion of

corrib field in 2015.

the availability of gas could make a

high pressure transmission pipelines such

steps should be taken to further safeguard

noteworthy contribution to communities

as the interconnector 2, linking scotland and

ireland’s future gas supplies by ensuring

that do not already have it, by facilitating a

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 11

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

significant reduction in both energy costs

convert fleet vehicles such as city bus

ireland from 46% in 2007, to 70% by the end

and in greenhouse gas emissions. Gas

fleets that are used close to their base

of 2014. this programme is continuing, with

emits 40-50% less co2 than coal or peat,

depots to cnG, and locating the re-fuelling

further storage facility refurbishment

and 25% less than diesel. nonetheless, in

infrastructure in these depots. this model

projects planned for the future.

terms of future network extensions, these

has been implemented successfully in

ireland has only one oil refinery, located at

should continue to be evaluated on an

many european cities and a 2012 trial on a

whitegate, co. cork. this refinery supplies

economic basis, always taking into

bus in cork city proved the benefits of the

about one-third of ireland’s total oil

consideration the need for a robust and

concept in ireland also. there is also

consumption and is mandated to be in

reliable network. future planning needs to

potential to develop indigenous biofuels

operation until mid-2016. however, post

address the question of whether there is

from a number of sources to complement

2016, its future is uncertain. in recent years

the demand to extend gas to every town in

or replace cnG as a fuel for vehicles in the

there has been a significant decline in the

ireland, and where it is not economic to do

future, further reducing the need for

number of refineries operating in the eu. in

so due to lack of demand, measures to

imported gas.

light of this and the uncertainty relating to

stimulate this demand should be

whitegate, in 2011 the Government

considered.

commissioned a “study of the strategic case

A report by the western development

for oil refining requirements of the island of

commission, which examined the benefits

ireland”. the findings and recommendations

of extending the gas grid to a further 11

of this study were published in 2013 and

towns in the north west, estimated that

concluded that the current infrastructure is

€20.6 million could be saved annually in

adequate to meet projected demand into the

PETROLEUM PRODUCTS

future. however, if the refinery closed

should be given to similar studies being

Petroleum products are the key source of

would result in the re-distribution of all of its

carried out in other regions of the country

transport energy in Ireland. A secure supply

current volumes to other import terminals.

to assess the potential benefits and to

of these products is essential for mobility

while such infrastructure has the capacity to

inform national gas infrastructure strategy.

and for economic activity. Considerable

handle this volume, instantaneous

to diversify ireland’s natural gas supply

volumes of oil are also consumed in major

re-distribution will not be possible and will

network, it is important to develop a port

industrial units. In addition, significant

need to be planned in order to minimise any

facility for the importation of liquefied

amounts of liquid petroleum gas, oil and

potential for disruption to supply.

fuel costs between commercial and domestic gas users if gas were available as an option in these towns. consideration

natural gas. the development of gas from

kerosene are still used for heating in areas

renewable resources should also be

outside the natural gas service areas.

import and distribution centre only), this

What does the future hold? very little fuel oil is now used for electricity

considered, including from landfill sites, wastewater facilities and from grass-based

altogether (as opposed to converting to an

generation in ireland. while some 65% of

biomethane.

What is the current state of the infrastructure?

ireland’s power generation comes from

one of the most difficult energy sources to

in respect of petroleum products, the

natural gas, an adequate stock of oil is

substitute for a greener, more

facilities for importation are adequate, as are

required to be immediately available for fuel

cost-effective, and more secure alternative

the storage facilities for commercial use. in

switching in the event of a disruption to gas

are petroleum products for road

terms of commercial oil stocks, the

supply. currently, there is only enough oil

transportation. compressed natural gas

sustained high cost of oil and the volatility in

stored at power stations to enable them to

(cnG), which can be used on the transport

international oil prices has resulted in

run on oil for about five days.

network, offers an alternative to such

significant challenges for the commercial oil

there is a move to convert some of the fuel

petroleum products. to facilitate

companies in maintaining high levels of oil

oil storage facilities at older oil-fired power

diversification of fuels used in road

inventory. in line with Government policy, the

stations, which are no longer in operation, or

transport, it should be Government policy

national oil reserves Agency (norA) has

are planned for closure in the near future, for

to ensure that liquefied natural gas for

undertaken a process of rebalancing

the storage of lighter oil products. this could

freight vehicles is available throughout the

ireland’s strategic oil reserves onto the

significantly improve the security of our

motorway network.

island of ireland, increasing the percentage

electricity supply system.

As a first step, there is an opportunity to

of its total reserves stored on the island of

this process is in its early stages and will

12 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

require a significant investment in

two-thirds of the heating market. A reduction

closes, steps should be taken to minimise the

refurbishment, new infrastructure, and the oil

in this level of dependency on oil for heating is

potential for disruption to oil supplies as

stocks themselves in order to provide

required. the better energy Programme

current refinery supply volumes are

meaningful levels of alternative oil supply in

should in particular be fully supported as it

redistributed to other existing oil import and

the event of a gas supply disruption.

aims to retrofit homes.

distribution centres.

the irish economy is particularly vulnerable to

increased levels of biofuel in transportation

the capacity to fuel switch from gas to oil at

serious price shocks, which could have a

fuels (ethanol in petrol, and biodiesel in motor

gas-fired power stations should be increased

dramatic impact on the country’s GdP. the

diesel) will steadily displace equivalent

from the current five days to 30 days.

danger of a sudden oil price rise presents a

volumes of hydrocarbon fuels. however, it must

exploration drilling has been at a historically

further risk to the economy. indeed, the impact

be borne in mind that the vast majority of

low level for the past few years and the state is

would most likely be more severe on ireland

biofuels, like fossil fuels, are also imported.

a long way short of the intensive drilling

than on other european countries, because of

the 2012 mandatory level of 4% biofuels in

programmes that would support the

our high dependence on oil imports. this was

motor fuels was increased to 6% in 2013 and

development of an indigenous offshore

evident from political events in north Africa

will rise over time to closer to 10% by 2020,

industry. to increase exploration activity, a

and the Middle east during 2011 and 2012.

and this will assist this initiative. the pace of

regulatory and fiscal regime should be

therefore, the benefits to be derived from the

such increase will of course have to be

maintained which gives confidence to investors

discovery and production of oil and gas from

developed in harmony with approved changes

and facilitates a predictable field development

offshore oil fields in ireland’s sea domain are

to eu motor fuel specifications.

process, so that all stakeholders have a clear

considerable. while the story of oil and gas

the introduction of a grant to allow for the

understanding of the issues involved and how

exploration offshore from ireland has largely

modification of petrol engine cars so that they

they are to be addressed. offshore ireland

been one of sporadic activity, there have

become flexi-fuel and can receive bioethanol or

needs to be promoted more to the international

recently been some more positive

petrol should be considered. equally,

oil and gas industry. Proactive steps should be

developments. four seismic surveys in the

investigation should be undertaken of

taken by relevant industry organisations, public

irish offshore area were carried out in 2013. in

agricultural capability for bioethanol and

representatives, Government departments and

addition, the joint department of

biodiesel production, and appropriate

state agencies to increase public

communications, energy and natural

incentives and supports provided to encourage

understanding of the industry, and to assure

resources (dcenr)/eni regional survey will

sustainable biofuel production. the

potential applicants for licences that their

aid the dcenr and industry in identifying

development of more sustainable energy is

presence and their investments are

areas of prospectivity for oil and gas offshore.

laudable and, if acted upon responsibly, the

welcome.

the Atlantic Margin licensing round, which

pace of such development will be steady but

offered substantial acreage off the west coast,

most likely slower then we’d like.

resulted in the award of 13 licensing options. A

in the meantime we should not lose sight of the

total of 12 applications were received to

fact that we are an island nation with no

convert these options to full frontier

pipeline connections to mainland europe,

exploration licences. the next round was

wholly reliant on oil imports entirely by ship.

announced in June 2014 and will close in

improvement in oil storage infrastructure is

september 2015.

therefore key. the extent to which such

the only exploration well to be drilled in

improvement will be required is likely to be

2013, dunquin, did not encounter

influenced by the future of the

commercial hydrocarbons.

whitegate refinery, and the

What actions do we need to take?

programme for the

to minimise risks to ireland in respect of

development of further

continuity of norA’s

petroleum products, the state needs to

storage on the

diversify and use sustainable sources for as

island of

much of its energy needs as it can. A clear and

ireland. in

coherent plan needs to be pursued to meet this

the event

ambition. oil is the primary fuel source for

that the oil

home heating and supplies approximately

refinery

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 13

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

TRANSPORT Developing a transport infrastructure which meets the requirements of Irish society and the Irish economy is essential to the future prosperity of the State. Critical to this is an integrated approach to road, rail, air and sea transport.

the motorways, like the trains, invariably

progress is being made on schemes in

link to Dublin. For example, the North-West,

Enniscorthy and New Ross, there are likely

including Donegal and Sligo, is linked to

to be constraints on progress for the next

Dublin by the N2, N3 and N4 and does not

number of years.

have full motorway links to the capital.

Beyond the motorways, Ireland’s remaining

Links between regional cities are much less

road network is in very variable condition

impressive. The Cork to Limerick road, for

and is not capable of meeting usual

example, is of relatively poor quality.

demand, certainly not to an international

This section refers to the State’s road

Significant investment is needed in terms of

level. On such roads there is increasing

network and its use for both private and

connecting Galway, Cork, Limerick and

traffic and congestion, especially in cities

public transport. A steady rise in general

Waterford to each other. The Atlantic

and towns as well as at peak periods.

traffic volumes over the last 12 months,

Corridor is yet to be advanced sufficiently –

Galway’s Eastern Bypass is at public

particularly in Dublin, has seen the return of

an issue that has featured in previous

consultation stage and is badly needed to

severe traffic congestion at peak times.

editions of this report. The only significant

alleviate the city’s current traffic, which will

work that commenced on this route in 2014

only grow as the economy strengthens.

What is the current state of the infrastructure?

was the Gort to Tuam M17/18 motorway – a

The quality of these networks has

PPP scheme that will be subsidised by the

deteriorated and they have been repaired

In terms of the motorway network, Ireland

Government for the construction and

only on a patchwork basis. Roads that were

has a radial motorway network out of Dublin

management consortium.

repaired and strengthened in the 1990s and

that is on a par with those in Europe. The

The funding available to operate, maintain

early noughties are now due for

inter-urban links to Dublin are relatively

and improve the national road network has

maintenance again, as there has been

new and in good condition. The new

been significantly reduced in recent years.

insufficient investment in maintenance of

motorways are well maintained and have

PPP schemes are, however, progressing

national roads over the last eight years.

appropriate capacity. Investment in roads

again, including the Gort to Tuam and the

Severe weather in the past number of years

ROADS

has been targeted at upgrading roads where

Arklow to Rathnew projects. The lack of

has also damaged many of our roads. This

there is highest demand, which means that

investment is clearly demonstrated by only

additional damage is exacerbated by other

Ireland’s motorways are currently capable of

two new strategic road projects which

factors, such as the potential significant

meeting demand, with the exception of the

completed construction in 2014 – the

increase in heavy traffic on rural roads

M50, which is now carrying 29% more traffic

Newlands Cross Flyover and the N5

resulting from increased milk production

since its upgrade in 2010. One caveat is that

Ballaghaderreen bypass. Although some

and timber transport.

14 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

OVERALL GRADE

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2015 12-MONTH

n Progress funding mechanisms for delayed

C

national road projects countrywide n Advance planning for Galway’s eastern bypass n improve road management systems

SECTOR GRADE Airports

B

Road: Motorways

B-

Sea ports

C

Road: Other routes

D

Rail

D

Sustainable transport

D

n develop a solution for north dublin and dublin Airport rail

FIVE-YEAR

n Accelerate the prioritisation of investment in infrastructure projects to increase ireland’s competitiveness and address the unemployment challenge

n Progress planning process for port redevelopments in cork and Galway

n Agree standards for data formats and communication protocols for integrated traffic systems to enable information sharing

n continue the integration of public transport services

Austere budgetary measures have seen the road maintenance programmes being significantly reduced to unsustainable levels. reduced budgets mean that local authorities have insufficient resources to maintain their road networks in acceptable condition. the 2015 budget recently announced for regional and local roads has been reduced from €333 million in 2014 to €294 million in 2015.

What does the future hold? ireland’s national secondary, regional and local roads are in need of a substantial overhaul, with many of these roads now in poor condition. there is a requirement to implement road management systems to help identify and manage deficiencies in the road surfaces, roadworks, excavations and bridges, as well as road markings and signs, in both urban and rural areas. road and pavement management systems currently being implemented on national and regional/local roads provide a foundation for allocation of funding on a needs basis and funding implications for local authorities into the future.

What actions do we need to take? the scale of reduction in capital expenditure by the Government is unprecedented. if the

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 15

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

Government does not reverse that decision,

impact and to change behaviour. However,

allows journeys of all modes to be planned

it is most unlikely that there will be any new

the costs of these are relatively low compared

throughout the country. for example, real

projects, other than those already identified,

to other areas such as road or rail.

time passenger information for multiple

commencing in the short to medium term.

urban streets have been neglected, with

operators, integrated ticketing, and passive

therefore, it becomes imperative that

inadequate lighting provided and poor or no

safety systems like school speed warning

maintenance and rehabilitation regimes are

footpaths in place in many locations. urban

signs all utilise its expertise. dublin city

put in place to continue improving the quality

areas also require substantial investment to

council’s open data platform – dublinked –

of national primary and secondary roads,

move towards a low-carbon, sustainable

enhances the traffic system in the capital.

and regional roads, while further work

model. this will involve investment in bus

however, there is a lack of cohesion, with each

needs to be done to connect the main road

lanes, cycle lanes, pedestrian routes and

city and the national roads Authority

network to air and sea ports. the

facilities for the mobility impaired, as well as

developing separately with no standard for the

development of rest and refuelling stations

initiatives to attract car users onto public

data format. Agreed standards for data

needs to continue on the motorway network,

transport or other modes of travel.

formats and communication protocols should

with only the Gorey M11 PPP scheme under

A proposal to introduce a bus rapid transit

be developed collaboratively.

construction and due to open in 2015.

(brt) system to dublin is currently at

there is an overall need to develop a national

ideally, the road system should be improved

planning and design stage.

its strategy to co-ordinate technologies,

to further link the coastal cities of waterford,

bike-sharing schemes have proven popular in

infrastructure and investment while ensuring

cork, limerick, Galway and sligo but this

ireland’s cities where residents of cork,

value for money.

will have to be advanced in the context of

dublin, Galway and limerick have embraced

prioritisation.

the shift to an alternative mode of public

What actions do we need to take?

transport.

the national development Plan objectives

there is also a major deficit in park-and-ride

need to be reassessed with respect to the field

facilities. currently, irish road infrastructure is

of road and rail transportation, including

not geared towards environmental and

public transportation policies, having regard

low-carbon concerns. significant investment

to the country’s improved economic

is needed to draw people out of their cars for

environment and with a prioritisation of

even part of their journey. there are major

projects for implementation.

PUBLIC, INTEGRATED AND SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT

policy initiatives to develop cycling across

in conjunction with other relevant departments,

for sustainable transport projects in greater

outlook and identify a realistic number of

There are, despite the recent recession, a

dublin and regional cities is to be welcomed.

gateways for further development, facilitated

number of developments in this area, where

the national Journey Planner, which avails of

by appropriate transport connections. there

progress has the potential for significant

intelligent transport systems (its) integration,

should be continued

ireland, including the introduction of cycle

a new national spatial strategy should be

lanes in new roads. funding of €42.5 million

developed to reflect the changed economic

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

investment in improved facilities for

well maintained. Passenger journeys on

What actions do we need to take?

pedestrians and cyclists, in particular in the

iarnród Éireann services increased by almost

if a modal shift in the use of transport is

major cities where most scope exists for

one million in 2014 across all rail modes. of

envisaged, then rail is not capable of

maximising the modal share of these modes.

particular note is the increase of 72.5% on the

supporting projected economic development.

the further development of the national cycle

ennis-Athenry section of the western rail

investment is needed to get people out of their

network, which can draw significant numbers

corridor.

cars and onto bus and rail. investment should

of cycle tourists to ireland, can also provide an

the enduring and main deficit in terms of both

be focused to link up the existing rail facilities,

amenity for communities along the routes.

light and heavy rail in dublin is still

particularly in dublin. the Government’s

An integrated, frequent and reliable network

connectivity, but with the luas bXd underway

decision to defer funding for Metro north,

of public transport services in our cities,

some progress on this issue is likely in the

dArt underground, the navan railway line

including integrating fare structures across

foreseeable future.

and the western rail corridor leaves the luas

bus and rail modes, to enable multi-stage

the extension of the rail spur to dublin Port

line as the only major project that will be

public transport journeys that are not

has facilitated access for rail freight to ship

undertaken.

currently attractive (resulting in higher car

side, thereby improving competitiveness.

Allowing for this, planning must still recognise

mode shares), should be developed.

RAIL

the future desirability that the rail network can

What does the future hold?

be linked up in an efficient manner and with

irish rail infrastructure is not geared to

other transport modes. decisions need to be

address environmental and low carbon

taken and communicated. while rail in its

concerns. it is not designed to take people out

current state is capable of meeting current

of their cars or to drive a significant modal

demand, the system needs further

shift; consequently, it is not sufficiently

development to improve the linkages between

attractive to travel by train. the dispersed

the major centres of population. the business

nature of the population does not facilitate the

case for extending the dArt to dublin Airport

The Luas BXD project, which will link the

economic development of the passenger

has been developed and it is estimated that

existing Luas lines in Dublin city centre, is the

network and makes it difficult for the train

within 15 years 9.4 million passengers per

only major piece of transport infrastructure

system to compete with road travel. even in

annum would use the dArt

currently underway in 2015.

terms of the development of park-and-ride

extension. this

facilities, the basic infrastructure to support

project should be

greater use of the train is largely absent, and

accelerated – not

where it is available pricing strategies often

deferred.

What is the current state of the infrastructure? Although the luas, the dArt and inter-city

deter usage. in this, ireland lags a long way

trains are fully utilised at peak times, they are

behind the rest of europe. this is partly a

usually capable of meeting demand, but as the

function of geography and of the reality that

economy starts to grow, capacity may become

ireland is a small island, with a dispersed

an issue. irish heavy rail infrastructure is

population.

generally well maintained following the

there is limited development potential

installation in places of new track to facilitate

for an urban rail network in cork;

higher train speeds and increased commuter

however, light railway is a

demand; this work needs to be continued

consideration.

across the network. the railway safety capital investment Programme has ensured vital asset renewal works including track renewal and upgrading bridges. with projects like the dArt underground, Kildare route Project Phase 2 and the navan railway line deferred for the near future, there are currently no plans to increase capacity on any of the lines. the light rail system in dublin appears to be

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 17

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

AIRPORTS Ireland is an open economy with substantial inward investment. This investment relies in large part on the ability to access Dublin and the regional gateways from international air transport

in the short to medium term we need to continue to invest in the maintenance of our airports and protect these assets to support economic recovery.

via the n27 from the north or r600 from the south. surface access to the airport is by road only as the topography does not lend itself to the development of a rail line. Given the scattered nature of the population in the airport’s service area, public transport is not seen as a viable mode of transport for passengers but could be

hubs. International air connectivity is critical

developed to alleviate airport employee

for tourism and business travel.

commuter traffic. the development of a bus

What is the current state of the infrastructure?

a long time to deliver and we must not lose

service could help to lessen congestion at the

sight of the need to progress connectivity and

Kinsale roundabout.

further infrastructure developments to avail of

irish airports and air traffic control systems

opportunities. this is particularly the case with

What actions do we need to take?

are well maintained and the dublin Airport

air traffic numbers at near pre-recession

in the short to medium term we need to

Authority (dAA) and the irish Aviation Authority

peaks.

continue to invest in the maintenance of our

(iAA) continue to invest to maintain the safety

commercial services have now ceased at both

airports and protect these assets to support

and security of the infrastructure. the new

Galway and sligo. funding for ireland west

economic recovery. in the longer term we

terminal buildings are important state assets,

Airport Knock, waterford, donegal and Kerry

need to plan so as to exploit opportunities that

and their value will be seen in the medium to

will remain in place for the next number of

present themselves and continue to rectify

longer term, as traffic volumes increase again.

years. waterford Airport has a limited service.

weaknesses in our existing infrastructure and

the dAA has plans to develop a second runway

these airports, however, are crucial for

travel experience. smaller regional airports

and this investment will be required, albeit

foreign access to peripheral areas of the

should be maintained because of their

perhaps not in the short term but when a

country, and are therefore vital for inward

importance for the economic development of

business case for its development is put

investment in those areas.

ireland outside dublin.

forward. the development of the inter-urban

of concern, and in need of consideration in the

motorways has put increased pressure on air

future as traffic grows and possibly exceeds

transport within ireland. As road travel times

previous highs, is the single point of access

have improved, prospective air passengers are

into cork airport for all traffic

less willing to spend time waiting in airports for flights.

What does the future hold? if ireland’s export-driven economic recovery is to continue, then we will see a return to growth in our airports. in many respects, the recent completion of the new terminals in dublin and cork has ireland well positioned to accommodate such growth. however, airport infrastructure takes

18 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

repair and replacement, which required

economy. the city’s bypass, which is at

emergency repairs given 2014’s stormy

planning stage, is essential to the success of

weather. following a decline in recent years,

this development. the first phase of the new

the volume of traffic through ports has more

port, if approved, would commence in 2015.

or less stabilised, with export growth

this is the first project to apply for planning

emerging in some sectors. More importantly,

permission on grounds of “imperative

SEA PORTS

the changing market conditions are driving

reasons of overriding public interest” or

the need to invest in new port infrastructure,

iroPi. the Port of cork is currently hosting

Ireland’s commercial sea ports are vital for

for example, the international trend towards

public consultations on its plans for

most exports and imports, as well as for the

larger vessels.

expansion at ringaskiddy.

infrastructure includes both large and small

What does the future hold?

What actions do we need to take?

fisheries harbours and small leisure

the changing market conditions and logistics

ireland needs to develop its commercial ports

tourism sector. Furthermore, our marine

harbours. The Ports of Dublin, Shannon

will fuel the need for new or expanded

to facilitate larger vessels, which can deliver

Foynes and Cork are Tier 1 port

facilities availing of deeper water

economies of scale and improve overall

infrastructure as per the 2013 Ports Policy

opportunities, but will require better

national competitiveness. it is imperative,

document.

hinterland connections. inner city renewal

also, to streamline the statutory planning

will also push more port activities out of city

process to ensure that this infrastructure can

What is the current state of the infrastructure?

centres and release valuable land for

be delivered in an integrated and timely

development. however, port infrastructure

fashion. the projects that are currently pre

the commercial ports are generally well

tends to be large and can take many years

planning should be supported. strategic

maintained by the port companies. there

from planning to delivery; therefore, ports

traffic in the context of the national roads

has been significant investment in the larger

must plan far in advance for such

primarily comprises major inter-urban and

fisheries harbours in recent years, while

infrastructure. the Port of Galway public

inter-regional traffic, which contributes to

there has been some investment in the

consultations are currently underway

socio-economic development. the

smaller harbours, like cill rónáin harbour

regarding the €126 million plan to build a

transportation of goods and products,

on inis Mór. there remain many small quay

new deepwater port and reclaim land from

especially traffic to and from main ports and

walls around the coast that are in need of

Galway bay under the strategic

airports, both freight and passenger related,

infrastructure Act. the current harbour is

is key to the sustainability of ireland’s

operating below capacity due to tidal

economy. it stands to reason then that the

restrictions and the new development plans

connectivity, particularly for freight, of our

will allow it to attract larger commercial and

seaports to the overall transport network

cruise vessels, thereby benefiting the local

needs to be prioritised.

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 19

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

WATER AND FLOODING Water is a vital resource that many developed nations take for granted. The abundance of water in Ireland is one of our many natural advantages but the management of this resource to satisfy all stakeholders is critical for our continued success. Three aspects of water are considered here: the water and wastewater networks; water in the natural environment; and, flood management.

Assessment scoping report. All the while it

cryptosporidium in the water supply,

has had to contend with retrofitting meters

affecting almost half the population of the

to existing homes and developing a pricing

county. The biggest challenge for the new

model that ensures it is adequately funded

utility is to address the variance in the

to improve and develop Ireland’s newest

water network in Ireland, where some

utility network.

parts date back to the 19th century and

WATER SUPPLY AND WASTEWATER

Water supply

building regulations as part of the

The latest report from the Environmental

development that gripped the country at

Raw water is taken from the natural

Protection Agency (EPA) published in 2015

the start of the 21st century. The EPA’s

environment and then treated, stored and

assessed drinking water quality across

Remedial Action List (RAL), first prepared

distributed through pipes into people’s

Ireland in 2013. The results highlight the

by the Agency in 2008, has driven many

homes. The quality of this water is

inconsistency that exists in the quality of

improvements in water treatment, with

paramount to the health of Ireland’s citizens

water available to different communities

demonstrable results. However, by the end

and its overseas visitors.

across Ireland but which are now the

of 2013, 28% of the original list of works

responsibility of one provider. As Irish

recommended for public water supplies

What is the current state of the infrastructure?

Water is now the national water utility, all

was still outstanding.

customers of Irish Water will rightly expect

Lead in water continues to potentially

Irish Water is the single utility now

to receive an adequate supply in terms of

affect approximately 150,000 homes in

responsible for Ireland’s water supply and

reliability and quality. Sustained

Ireland and a number of public buildings

wastewater assets since 1st January 2014.

investment over many years will be needed

built more than 40 years ago, primarily due

It has responsibility for approximately 1,000

to reach this goal.

to lead pipes on the customer side. Irish

separate public water supplies and the

In the Greater Dublin Area for example,

Water has published a draft lead strategy

treatment of wastewater from

recent investments in the Ballymore

to address this issue in line with

others have been installed contrary to

approximately 1,000 agglomerations.

Eustace and Leixlip Water Treatment

international practice. The strategy also

During its first year of existence, Irish Water

Plants have improved the region’s water

includes a programme to remove backyard

has engaged in a consultation process with

supply resilience at least for the short to

shared lead services and lead service

members of the public asking for

medium term. In contrast, boil notices have

connections on the public side.

submissions on its Water Services Strategic

been in operation in Roscommon for a year

Leakages across the network are close to

Plan and draft Strategic Environment

or more due to the detection of

50% – double the rate in of the UK – and it

20 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

OVERALL GRADE

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2015 12-MONTH

n Determine the long-term funding model

C

to ensure continued investment and improvements in the water supply network n Eliminate the discharge of untreated

SECTOR GRADE Water supply

C

Water quality

C

Wastewater

D

Flooding

D

sewage into Ireland’s natural waterways n Complete the draft Flood Risk

FIVE-YEAR

n Reduce unaccounted for water (UFW) from 50% to 38% nationally n Develop action plans to address wastewater works that are causing river pollution n Implement the Flood Risk Management Plans from 2016

Management Plans for public consultation

is estimated that €150 million is required

Wastewater

over the next three years to achieve a

the most recent urban wastewater

sustainable economic level of leakage.

discharges report published by the ePA

the total number of cases of E. coli in public

stated that 30% of wastewater treatment

water supplies increased by three to 10

plants did not meet all mandatory eu

occurrences in 2013, compared to seven in

effluent quality and sampling standards

2012. half of these were in ‘small supplies’

in 2013 compared to 31% in 2012 –

in co. wicklow where a boil notice was put

continuing an albeit modest downward

in place until uv treatment was introduced.

trend in recent years.

Private water supplies continue to lag

the management and treatment of

behind public and group water supplies for

ireland’s wastewater is still inadequate,

E. coli compliance. E. coli was detected in 63

and untreated wastewater is being

small private supplies compared to

discharged in 44 urban centres.

detection in 33 group schemes (up from 27

there are currently 250 ePA licences that

ireland has a distinct competitive advantage over other nations in attracting foreign direct investment (fdi) and developing indigenous businesses given its certainty of supply at a reasonable cost.

in 2012). that said, the vast majority of

have requirements for infrastructural

ireland’s population has a reliable supply of

improvements including 11 in urban areas

clean drinking water, with over 98% of the

where secondary treatment is required

ringsend wastewater treatment works,

water supplied meeting drinking water

under the urban wastewater treatment

which is below capacity and needs

standards.

directive. some of these improvements were

improvements to bring it up to an adequate

specified as being required as far back as

level to serve the current population. As the

2005. with half of those due before the end

largest wastewater treatment plant in

of 2013 still outstanding at the beginning of

ireland, its failure to meet the effluent

2014, it highlights the effect that the lack of

quality and sampling standards in the last

priority investment in wastewater treatment

year reported resulted in a dramatic drop in

plants has had in the last decade despite the

ireland’s compliance rates.

explosion in population and homes

A number of pumping stations and

connected to the network.

treatment plants put in by developers

infrastructure for wastewater collection

during the period of sustained house

across the country is of variable quality. the

building in the 2000s as short-term

Greater dublin Area is served by the

measures are now defunct.

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 21

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015 GREATER DUBLIN OVERALL GRADE

IRELAND’S WATER SUPPLY INFRASTRUCTURE BY COUNTY

A

A A B

B

A ROSCOMMON: Ongoing boil notices affecting the water supply for almost half of the county's population is unacceptable in 21st century Ireland. Investment in the infrastructure is due to improve conditions in 2015.

D

A

The capital's water supply is fit for purpose and investment has recently taken place with the Ballymore Eustace refurbishment, the Water Supply Project Dublin and the Dublin Region Watermains Rehabilitation Project. Boil notices in Wicklow and remedial works not due to 2022, however, lower the overall grade for the GDR.

A

B A

B

A

B E

E A

D

A

GALWAY CITY: A GALWAY COUNTY: D A recent boil notice in Williamstown that may not be resolved for two years means the county's water supply is below standard.

C

B B

B A C

B

B

A C

E

C A

KERRY: With more than 20 outstanding actions on the EPA's RAL, Kerry's water infrastructure is below standard.

CORK CITY: A CORK COUNTY: C

CARLOW was one of 11 counties that didn't have a boil notice or water restriction in place.

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

the inspection of domestic wastewater

resolve untreated discharges is being

treatment systems commenced in July

made. however, the task to improve

2013. the process has clearly identified that

ireland’s wastewater infrastructure will

failures to properly operate, maintain or

take a number of years. capacity is also

desludge a system remain the most

an issue, as the ePA notes that circa 35%

common problems putting the environment

of the 759 incidents reported in 2013

and the health of nearby residences at risk.

were due to insufficient treatment capacity. As the economy picks up in 2015

What does the future hold? Water

and beyond, increased volumes of

ireland has a distinct competitive advantage

developments will impact on existing

over other nations in attracting foreign direct

treatment plants like ringsend.

investment (fdi) and developing indigenous

improvements in existing infrastructure

businesses given its certainty of supply at a

and additions to the network will be

reasonable cost. with a new national water

necessary.

wastewater from new housing

network and one utility to provide all services, economies of scale should become apparent in the future.

What actions do we need to take?

like any water network worldwide, there is

irish water assumed responsibility for

unaccounted for water in the system due to

both water and wastewater on 1st

A similar project to the dublin region watermains rehabilitation

leakages. it is estimated that almost 50% of

January 2014. with over 12 months now

Project, albeit on a national scale, needs to

all treated water is being lost. the metering

past, the organisation has an understanding

be developed to replace watermains that are

programme should help to address this by

of the status of the national networks and

prone to bursts, leaks and low water

identifying weaknesses in the system, and

where investment needs prioritisation.

data already available from irish water

pressure due to their age. with over 145km of pipes replaced in Greater dublin’s

suggests that one in 10 homes has a leak.

Water

8,000km of pipes, the challenge is to identify

the metering programme will also assist

the regulator (commission for energy

the weaknesses in the 60,000km of pipes in

with finding lead pipes both in the service

regulation) has to ensure that the pricing

the national system and develop strategies

connection on the public side and also in the

model for water is both acceptable to the

to significantly reduce leakage across the

supply pipes on the customer side.

consumer and is adequate to fund the

networks.

the cost of providing, managing, maintaining

investment that is required to improve the

and improving the water network is

network. further incentives to encourage

Wastewater

estimated at €1.2 billion and a shortfall has

conservation and the introduction of variable

urban wastewater is one of the significant

been identified. in the last 12 months the

charges for water usage must be considered.

pressures on water quality in ireland – on

cost to the consumer of €160 for a single

A long-term water supply for the Greater

inland, estuarine and coastal waters. it is

person household or €260 for two or more

dublin region is a priority given its central

clear that upgrades and improvements are

adults has been finalised and will remain

role in the growth of the national economy

necessary to meet ireland’s obligations to

fixed until the end of 2018, with a water

and its ability to attract inward investment.

its citizens as well as its commitment to eu

conservation grant also available. variable

irish water has inherited this challenge

directives to deliver the highest standards in

energy costs will always present a future

from dublin city council and the

water quality.

risk to water supply costs, as will the impact

department of the environment, community

eliminating the discharge of untreated

of climate change and adverse weather

and local Government (declG). it is

sewage and providing secondary treatment

conditions.

currently undertaking specialist surveys of

in urban areas where it is required is clearly

each of the options available, including

a priority, as well as carrying out the

Wastewater

extracting water from the shannon and

improvements specified by the ePA licences.

with upgraded plants like leixlip coming on

desalination. the project is currently at

inspections, monitoring and enforcement

stream in 2014, and other projects now

planning stage with a view to achieving a

of authorisations are crucial to the

under construction, in clifden and waterford

successful outcome to the application to An

continued effectiveness of ireland’s

for example, it is clear that progress to

bórd Pleanála by 2016/17.

wastewater treatment plants.

23 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 23

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

greater or lesser extent. serious pollution

rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and

was recorded at just 20 sites, down from 39

groundwater, and their dependent wildlife

in 2004-2006.

habitats, under one piece of environmental

in 2013, 97% of bathing waters met eu

legislation.

mandatory standards and 84% met the

As previously referenced, the 2009 european

stricter eu standards, compared to 67% in

court of Justice ruling against ireland for

WATER QUALITY

2012. from the end of 2014’s bathing season

not properly implementing eu rules on

a new ‘excellent’ category will apply for

domestic wastewater treatment units in

This section deals with water in the natural

water quality and will be assessed on a

mainly rural areas has resulted in the

environment – lakes, rivers, groundwater,

four-year rolling period. stricter water

development and implementation of the ePA

and coastal bays and estuaries.

quality criteria for blue flag beaches was

inspection plan since september 2013.

introduced in 2013 and ireland managed to

identification of non-compliant domestic

What is the current state of the infrastructure?

regain six more blue flags in 2014. however,

wastewater systems is underway and

some beaches lost their status due to

remedying of faults should result in the

the european commission’s blueprint to

ongoing works to repair damage caused by

reduction of discharges coming into contact

safeguard europe’s water resources

storms. A major programme – the river

with surface water. significant investment in

document outlines actions that concentrate

basin district Management Plans – is

municipal wastewater treatment plants has

on better implementation of current water

underway to meet the objectives of the eu’s

ensured that progress has been made in the

legislation, integration of water policy

water framework directive, which is

last decade, though much work remains to

objectives into other policies, and filling the

designed to protect all high status waters,

be done.

gaps, in particular as regards water quantity

prevent further deterioration of all waters,

and efficiency. the objective is to ensure that

and restore degraded surface and ground

What does the future hold?

a sufficient quantity of good quality water is

waters to good status by 2015. the directive

with the introduction of water charges

available for people's needs, the economy

was introduced in response to the increasing

consumers may be tempted to drill private

and the environment throughout the eu.

threat of pollution and the demand from the

wells in an attempt to reduce costs. figures

water quality in ireland in the main

public for cleaner rivers, lakes and beaches.

from the 2013 ePA report on drinking water

continues to improve due to investments in

now, for the first time, there is a framework

quality in ireland indicate that 30% of private

wastewater treatment schemes, progress in

for the protection of all waters including

wells are contaminated and not suitable for

monitoring standards and the completion of

consumption without treatment.

most remedial actions as per the original

the future risks to water quality include

ePA rAl.

those from any further development

the monitoring reports are completed in a

pressures in both urban and rural areas,

three-year cycle and the last full report was

which brings online more wastewater to be

published in 2010. interim integrated reports

treated and assimilated back into the

for regions have been published in 2013 and

environment.

2014 for the western region, south eastern

there are risks also from climate change. in

region and the neagh bann and north

drought conditions there may not be enough

western river basin districts.

water to dilute treated sewage effluent as

the most up-to-date integrated figures

designed. in heavy rainfall, the sudden

available from the ePA show that of the

change in raw water quality arising from

almost 13,200km of rivers surveyed in

flooding can quickly compromise water

ireland between 2007 and 2009, the river quality monitoring showed that 70% were unpolluted and 30% were impaired to a

24 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

supplies. cryptosporidium outbreaks have

the new colour-coded warnings issued by Met

demonstrated the fragility of water supplies

Éireann have greatly assisted the public and

and their importance to normal living. Many

other agencies in understanding the risk

irish water schemes are under threat from

posed by the weather. the oPw continues to

cryptosporidium because of inadequate

advance major capital flood relief schemes

barriers in treatment. comprehensive water

and minor flood works, in partnership with

safety plans and catchment management plans are required to manage this risk.

What actions do we need to take?

FLOODING

local authorities, to protect against fluvial, coastal/tidal and groundwater flooding.

Many parts of Ireland will remain in danger

schemes completed to date have substantially

of flooding and risks in areas that are

reduced flood risk in those areas. however,

the monitoring of water quality by the ePA is

currently not associated with flooding will

significant challenges remain. the lack of river

comprehensive, but sufficient resources are

increase. This will continue to present

defences in some towns, combined with poorly

not always available to act on the

considerable challenges for the Office of

maintained river channels, are an issue. while

recommendations which come from

Public Works (OPW), which is the lead

the oPw is responsible for maintenance

monitoring. it is important that this situation

agency for flood risk management in

programmes in river channels, which are part

be resolved. ireland is expected to comply

Ireland, the local authorities and other

of its completed arterial drainage schemes

with eu targets for the provision of

bodies with responsibilities for flood risk

and flood relief schemes, the maintenance in

secondary treatment in urban wastewater by

management. Flooding can derive from

other channels that fall outside the oPw's

2015.

coastal/tidal, fluvial (rivers), pluvial (intense

areas of responsibility is more ad hoc. of

the river basin Management Plans have

rainfall) and groundwater sources.

concern is the management of river channels

been adopted, with the objective to increase the proportion of rivers and canals at good or high status from just over 50% to 68% by

within drainage districts that are under the

What is the current state of the infrastructure?

management of various local authorities and of other river channels where maintenance is

2015, with further improvements up to 2027.

ireland yet again experienced flooding

the responsibility of the riparian landowner.

with the implementation of the water

incidents across the country in 2014 caused by

while maintenance programmes in many river

framework directive now the responsibility

excessive rainfall and high tides. ireland’s

channels that are not part of an arterial

of one entity, this should allow for more

experience of flooding in the winter of 2013/14

drainage scheme were never particularly well

co-ordination. An implementation report and

differed from this as it mostly resulted from

structured, the capacity of some local

annual progress report should document

coastal surges caused by high tides coupled

authorities to maintain drainage districts and

this process. A properly-resourced

with low atmospheric pressure causing storm

use their statutory powers to maintain other

programme of catchment risk management

force winds.

river channels is unlikely to be improved from

plans and of groundwater protection plans is

coastal damage as a result of the severe

cuts to local authority budgets and resources

vital for every water source, and adequate

weather was in some cases considerable and

in future years.

funding must be provided if ireland is to

rapid. the disruption, human suffering and

local authorities, under the framework for

meet the targets set for it.

financial losses were significant, with local

Major emergency Management, are required

authorities having to address the severe

to develop emergency response Plans to

challenge of reducing or managing the risks

provide co-ordinated responses to major

related to intense rainfall and under-capacity

emergencies, including flood events resulting

of the urban drainage infrastructure, as well

from severe weather. the oPw provides advice

as the costs of cleaning up the damage. the

and assistance to local authorities, when

local authorities were assisted in meeting the

requested, in reviewing their flood emergency

challenges they faced, with funding and other

response Plans. however, the responsibility

support provided from central government and

lies with individual local authorities and

the oPw.

progress in this regard is inconsistent across the country and can be improved.

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 25

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

during recent years, ireland witnessed the

reduced by the introduction of a proper

inappropriate development of residential, commercial and industrial properties in floodplains. A legacy from this is that flood risk in these developments will need careful management in future years, potentially imposing additional strains on the resources of local authorities. further inappropriate development should be eliminated through local authority

monitoring, reporting and maintenance

the curtailment of maintenance regimes to save money in the short term incurs larger costs in the longer term.

regime.

What actions do we need to take? the outputs of the national cfrAM Programme will be a major addition to the way ireland manages flood protection, and the public consultation process on this programme will be onoing throughout the year

implementation, by 2015, of the Planning

and into 2016. Across the country, the flood

system and flood risk Management guidance

risk Management Plans will be central to a

issued by the declG and oPw in 2009. this

2004 recognised that new or recalibrated

proactive approach for managing existing and

should ensure that, when used in combination

digital flood estimation methodologies that

potential future flood risks. they will set out

with the flood mapping being produced by the

reflect conditions and technologies in modern

an appropriate long-term strategy across the

oPw and through strategic and local flood risk

irish hydrology could significantly improve the

country for dealing with flooding, which should

assessments, flood risk is a key consideration

quality and facility of flood estimation for the

guide future investment by the state in this

in preparing development plans and local area

purposes of flood risk management. the flood

area. ireland needs to move towards tailored

plans, and in the assessment of planning

studies update (fsu) research programme is

flood warning systems across the country and

applications. while evidence indicates that

now complete. A web-based applications

towards an agreed approach to the

application of the guidance is gaining traction

portal was launched in 2014 to implement

maintenance of water courses.

in the planning and development management

extreme rainfall and flood estimation

significant funding is required for the oPw and

decisions of local authorities, further work is

computations at river locations in ireland,

local authorities if they are to implement the

required to ensure that the principles of the

based on the methodologies developed

measures (structural and non-structural)

guidance are embedded, understood and

through the fsu research, as well as providing

which are necessary to alleviate flooding. in

applied by both councils and planners in the

a means of disseminating the fsu research

this regard, the Government decision to

decision-making process.

documentation.

ringfence to 2016 the oPw capital budget

non-structural flood risk management relies

(which includes provisions for major and minor

What does the future hold?

heavily on adequate flood forecasting and

flood relief schemes) is positive, but further

in the context of the eu floods directive, the

warning. A strategic review of options for flood

funding to the local authorities is required to

national Preliminary flood risk Assessment

forecasting and flood warning in ireland has

address the increasing urban storm water

completed in 2011 identified 300 Areas for

been completed. the final report has been

drainage problems. despite the economic

further Assessment (AfAs) around ireland.

completed setting out the findings and

challenges facing the country, it is important

the oPw and its partners are now developing

recommendations, which are currently under

that resources and funding be protected in

detailed flood maps through the catchment

consideration.

future budget allocations. the difficulty is that

flood risk Assessment and Management

ireland’s capability to plan and implement a

failure to resolve the flooding issue will in turn

(cfrAM) studies, which focus on flood

maintenance regime to manage flooding

create still more economic challenges.

prevention, protection and preparedness.

remains poor. the curtailment of maintenance

Potentially viable flood risk management

regimes to save money in the short term

options to reduce or manage the risks for the

incurs larger costs in the longer term. the

300 AfAs will then be available for public

pluvial flooding through monster rain events is

consultation in 2015, and based on this

compounded because the amount of solid

consultation, flood risk Management Plans

material going into gullies and drains

will be prepared before the end of 2015.

increases, causing blockages and flooding.

the report of the flood Policy review Group in

the probability of this occurring can be greatly

26 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

WASTE Waste management infrastructure in Ireland is undergoing a transformation as the move away from landfill disposal continues. New treatment infrastructure is required if the State is to achieve its statutory diversion targets and ambitions of becoming self-sufficient with regard to particular wastes. What is the current state of the infrastructure?

45%, which is above the EU27 norm of 40%.

anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities are also

Landfill gate prices, excluding the levy, have

active in Ireland. These biological facilities are

Waste management infrastructure is in a

dropped significantly since the economic

treating food waste, green waste and certain

period of transition as historical treatment

downturn and local authorities have struggled

agricultural sludges and wastes. Further

destinations are being replaced by more

to compete with privately operated facilities.

growth in infrastructure in this area is

advanced and environmentally preferred

The available tonnage of residual wastes has

predicted in the coming years.

solutions. With the reorganisation of local

fallen significantly in this period also, while

Ireland’s first waste-to-energy facility is

authorities into three waste management

the landfill levy has been increased

located in Co. Meath and is accepting

regions in October 2013, a consultation

substantially. The levy currently stands at €75

non-hazardous residual wastes, which were

process on the new waste management plans

per tonne.

previously buried at landfill facilities.

commenced and all submissions were

As landfills decline other waste destination

Incineration to energy recovery

received by 30th January 2015.

treatment infrastructure has been

increased by 114%

Latest statistics available from the the

constructed or is being developed. There are

in 2012.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are

now 45 composting facilities with 386,100

from 2012. The number of landfills in Ireland

tonnes of operating capacity. The most recent

stood at 25 compared to 87 in 1995 – a

figures available show that

decrease of over 70%. The drop in the number

composting of biodegradable

of landfills reflects the changes in the waste

waste increased by 44%

market, with local authorities gradually

compared to the previous

exiting the collection and disposal markets.

year. A total

The amount of landfills accepting municipal

of five

waste for disposal is continuing to decrease, as is the remaining landfill disposal capacity – estimated at 12 years gross in 2012. Landfill closures are resulting in the inter-regional movement of waste. Municipal solid waste generation has dropped by 23% since the peak of 2007 despite significant population growth during that period. A decrease in personal consumption linked to the economic downturn is a contributor to the declining trend. The recycling rate for municipal waste is now at

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 27

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

OVERALL GRADE

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2015 12-MONTH

C

n ensure that new regulations are adequately enforced n deliver the new waste management plans n Progress the construction of waste

FIVE-YEAR

n Put in place the correct mix of waste capacity infrastructure to manage non-hazardous and hazardous wastes n roll out the organic waste collection system to households and businesses in line with

recovery treatment capacity options that

statutory thresholds to allow further

have acquired planning consent, including

development of biological treatment

anaerobic digestion, composting, waste to

capacities including anaerobic digestion

energy and mechanical biological treatment facilities

n work with third-level institutes to develop waste and resource management modules as part of civil and environmental engineering courses to ensure that this area is serviced with appropriately educated graduates

there are plans to expand this facility to accept

includes dismantling, sorting, crushing,

carried out a study in 2013 to quantify the

some hazardous wastes in the future. the

compacting, pelletising, drying, shredding,

extent of these mechanical capacities available

development of the dublin waste-to-energy

repacking, separating and blending. the ePA

in the state.

facility has been delayed substantially and its future appears uncertain. the development of the proposed waste-to-energy facility in cork for the treatment of hazardous and municipal wastes is also uncertain following a planning

What does the future hold? the recent trends show that municipal wastes and other major waste streams, such as construction and demolition wastes, have dropped in ireland

refusal.

as a direct consequence of the

there are two active cement

economic downturn. the

kilns, which are accepting

tonnage of future streams of

residual wastes in the form

waste is intricately linked to the

of solid recovered fuel and

performance of the economy and

smaller quantities of other wastes such as chipped tyres, from operators. these facilities are providing

its ability to move out of recession. the ePA currently forecasts that an additional 825,000

a treatment outlet although their primary

tonnes of municipal waste will need to

function remains to manufacture cement

be managed in the state by 2025.

and the calorific value of the feedstock

the state has statutory obligations to

restricts the type of wastes which can be

meet specific targets in the coming

accepted.

years and failure to meet these will most

the largest quantity of waste treatment

likely result in financial penalties. the

capacity in ireland is classed as

immediate targets are those adopted

pre-treatment infrastructure and is seen

under the eu landfill directive, which

as a precursor to next step recovery or

requires the state to reduce the quantity

disposal operations. the mechanical

of biodegradable municipal waste

treatment which falls into this category

28 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

consigned to landfill. the indications are

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015 | A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

that the targets for 2010 and 2013 have been

facilities, e.g., biological treatment plants

met. the threshold limits set for the future

and waste-to-energy plants. investment is

target year of 2016 will be more difficult

needed in collection and treatment

to achieve, but preliminary data for the

infrastructure, e.g., composting

first half of 2013 suggests that ireland is on target to achieve that obligation. the separate national target of diverting 50% of household waste from landfill by 2013 was surpassed in 2012, with just 44% of municipal waste landfilled in that year, and 56% recovered.

the tonnage of future streams of waste is intricately linked to the performance of the economy and its ability to move out of recession.

facilities and Ad plants, if the state’s desire to manage organic wastes in a more sustainable and resource-focused manner is to be achieved. the national shortfall in capacity needs to be addressed if the state is serious about achieving self-sufficiency. the upcoming publication

other european targets adopted for the

of the ePA’s review of capacity will be a key

sound environmental management of waste

publication in highlighting and quantifying

batteries and end-of-life vehicles will

the treatment capacity gaps and will point a

require investment to ensure these are

there has been no significant investment in

way forward.

achieved.

landfills for a few years as a partial

the preparation of new waste management

the new national waste policy statement has

consequence of a decision on Poolbeg, so

plans will be important in the context of

reinforced the state’s commitment to ending

the waste equation is balanced by reduced

developing a planning framework which

the practice of disposal to landfill. the

consumerism and the export of black bin

encourages the appropriate treatment

10-year goal of the virtual elimination of

waste.

capacities to be developed. these need to be

landfill has been set and the path to

should the economy show signs of recovery,

put in place within the next 12 months so the

achieving this objective, along with the

with the consequent increase in waste

management of wastes can be properly

state’s ambition for self-sufficiency in terms

levels, the gap between capacity to manage

planned. the involvement of all public and

of treatment capacity, will drive the

and volume will grow, and the absence of

industry stakeholders is needed to ensure

infrastructure agenda.

investment will be highlighted.

that the output of this process is effective

the current trend of exporting residual

and sustainable.

What actions do we need to take?

municipal (and hazardous) wastes for

the state needs to continue to fund and

ireland is currently landfilling an estimated

treatment to waste-to-energy, incineration

support national programmes and

39% of our municipal waste, down from 64%

and cement kilns in other european member

campaigns, which are helping to drive the

in 2007. the waste infrastructure market is

states reflects the state’s inability to date to

better use of resources and the prevention

changing as the state moves away from the

adequately manage its own residual wastes.

of wastes. Programmes and projects such

practice of landfilling towards more

the export solution is providing short-term

as rX3, the national waste Prevention

advanced and sustainable solutions. ireland

gains, in terms of diverting waste from

Programme, and reuse initiatives, such as

has a considerable way to travel before we

landfill, but it is a reactive and

freetradeireland.ie and sMile, need

can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best

market-driven approach to a long-term

continued investment if economic growth

environmentally performing european

environmental problem, where

and waste arising are to be decoupled in a

member states, who have corresponding

self-sufficiency is the preferred option for

sustained manner.

disposal rates of less than 5%.

waste management, where possible. energy

lastly, the imperative of finding new ways to

the stalled process of developing the

generation and job creation are another

manage waste demands a rethink on the

Poolbeg incinerator in dublin, and a similar

positive gain.

education being taught to third-level

fate for the cork incinerator, has meant that

investment in infrastructure is needed if we

graduates. undergraduate courses must be

the management of waste in ireland is being

are to close the capacity gap and become

geared to and mirror what the demands in

kept in equilibrium by the exporting of black

more self-reliant in terms of treating our

the sector are. the changing landscape of

bin waste. Previous editions of this report

own waste. the state’s existing capacities

waste management will have to be

have suggested that waste management in

are unbalanced, with high capacity levels of

addressed in the future education of

ireland was in a form of limbo until a

pre-treatment and mechanical treatment

engineering and science

definitive decision on Poolbeg was made.

and below capacity levels of final destination

undergraduates.

WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE 29

THE STATE OF IRELAND 2015

COMMUNICATIONS Ireland’s communications network is responsible for saving lives, assisting in business decisions and providing citizens and tourists with entertainment options. From critical contact among emergency services, to the transfer of ‘big data’ from devices, and the method by which a large segment of the population accesses their leisure activities – be that online shopping, gaming or sharing updates on social media – our dependency on our voice and data transmission infrastructure is probably at its greatest. What is the current state of the infrastructure?

caused by electrical storms and high winds.

when compared to five other countries in

Communications prices have been generally

Western Europe. The only area where it is

The roll-out of the 4G network by Ireland’s

in decline over the last 12 months according

ranked more expensive is fixed broadband

mobile providers continued in 2014.

to ComReg’s Q3 2014 market data report.

for business use – 8% more expensive than

Although coverage is still limited by

However, price increases announced by UPC

the average and pricier than the UK.

networks to specific urban areas, Vodafone

and Eircom across their bundles in the last

Just over two million (61%) mobile users

claims that almost 90% of Ireland’s

month means that a different picture may

now own a smartphone and this is reflected

population is now covered by 4G. Some 9% of

emerge this time next year. Both providers

in the increase in wifi minutes – up by 99%

mobile users accessed the 4G network and

cited investment in infrastructure as one of

from 2013. Wifi hotspots also increased by

data volumes continued to rise. An increase

the reasons for rising costs to consumers.

22%.

of 75% from 2013 on the volume of data

Ireland ranks cheaper than the UK and four

There has been no progress on connecting

accessed by mobile users via their devices

other OECD countries for pre-paid mobile

either the submarine cable system at Killala,

indicates the difference between 3G and the

packages and second cheapest for bill pay –

Co. Mayo, or the ‘dark fibre’ network.

high speeds offered by 4G, which allows

again cheaper than the UK. However, when it

video streaming and live gaming to

comes to business packages, Ireland is

What does the future hold?

smartphones.

ranked last out of six comparable OECD

The cost and quality of broadband access is

The growth in subscriptions to broadband

countries, with the average price 38% more

fundamental to the economic success of

with faster speeds (excluding mobiles)

expensive than for all the countries analysed.

enterprises that need connectivity for their

continues, mainly in the 30Mbps+ category,

Broadband costs are becoming more realistic

business. In Ireland, the cost of broadband

which has more than doubled from 2012 to

in comparison to our European neighbours,

access is coming down, which is essential for

43%, most probably due to the roll-out of

possibly because of the increased

small and medium enterprises so they are

fibre networks to regional cities and towns.

competition in the marketplace and

not disadvantaged in comparison with other

Fixed broadband subscriptions increased by

investment in the network over the past few

countries. However, the disparity of speeds

almost 7% on last year, yet fixed voice traffic

years, which have improved the services on

available is increasing between rural and

declined by the same amount. The increase

offer. Fixed broadband for private use is

urban areas, and prices do not reflect this.

in subscriptions is likely attributable to

second cheapest when ranked with five other

The Government’s announcement of the

services being offered as bundles. The

OECD countries and is less expensive than

National Broadband Plan in November 2014

vulnerability of the fixed-line network along

the UK. Similarly, mobile broadband for

is a step towards reducing the gap that exists

the western seaboard was again tested

domestic and business use is also on

between urban and rural areas in Ireland in

during recent winter weather with outages

average 50% cheaper than the average price

terms of access to high-speed broadband –

30 WWW.ENGINEERSIRELAND.IE

A review of infrAstructure in irelAnd

OVERALL GRADE

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2015 12-MONTH

B

n specify the deadlines for completion of the national broadband Plan n continue the roll-out of the 4G and fibre

FIVE-YEAR

n continue to reduce broadband costs across business and domestic services n Achieve universal high-speed broadband

networks nationwide to ensure the

to a substantial part of the state by 2016

availability of high-speed broadband on a

through the continued development of the

wider regional basis

next generation networks as well as

n reduce service costs when rates and speeds are not equal in rural/urban areas

mobile services n ireland’s national and regional broadband infrastructure should be in the top five of european league tables in terms of availability, uptake and speed by 2016

fixed and mobile. coupled with the

accessing tv programmes from mobile devices.

transmission networks, the communications

esb/vodafone plan to use the former’s

further investment is required in major

infrastructure has the potential to reduce the

network to connect some 500,000 homes and

network upgrades to cater for the higher

need for travel to attend meetings and to

businesses to fibre, this means that ireland’s

speeds of terabytes, which will be required in

reduce carbon emissions. on the downside,

broadband infrastructure will be reinforced,

the future. the continued roll-out of the 4G

hosting and hot-site facilities for network

and will further help to address the deficit in

network, increased fibre access, the

servers have high energy requirements.

rural areas. Advanced broadband speeds

esb/vodafone collaboration and the delivery of

nonetheless, the temperate climate in ireland

must be delivered on a far greater scale

the national broadband Plan to the 700,000

reduces the requirements for cooling/air

across the country.

homes and businesses identified will

conditioning, with reduced environmental

ownership of ireland’s telecoms

strengthen ireland’s communications

impact compared to other countries. ireland’s

infrastructure is in the hands of 150 banks

infrastructure and contribute to its increased

intellectual property (iP) and data protection

and lenders to eircom. A key issue must be

competitiveness. the Government needs to put

regimes need to keep abreast of

the ability of the overseas owners to balance

a timeline on the delivery of the national

international legislation in order to

the demands of their shareholders with the

broadband Plan other than post 2016.

needs of the irish economy.

cloud computing applications hosted in data

cloud computing is also set to be a major

centres are a key area of growing economic

cornerstone of ireland’s economic growth

activity and rely on a high capacity, resilient

into the future. Already, major multinationals

communication service. the Government

like Amazon and Microsoft have data centres

needs to prioritise connecting ireland’s

here, and Google has been granted

network to international cities if we

permission to build a second data centre in

are to compete for and with global

clondalkin.

business.

remain competitive in the global marketplace.

by providing

What actions do we need to take?

voice and

ireland’s future is dependent on our ability to

data

further develop fibre networks and mobile-based access services. changes in lifestyle with the advent of smartphones and tablets have implications for network usage including shopping, downloading music and

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