Chapter 9: Infrastructure and Utilities

Closed15 Apr, 2023, 8:00am - 29 May, 2023, 5:00pm

The sustainable social and economic growth of Abbeyfeale is dependent on the satisfactory provision of high-quality infrastructure associated with the provision of services for new residential and commercial developments.  Key infrastructural provisions, undertaken in a plan led manner will support the development of the town and ensure the development of good quality place making, where health and well-being is safeguarded, while also protecting the environment.  The provision of high-quality infrastructure networks and environmental services is fundamental to ensuring the long-term physical, social and economic development of the town.

Policy IU P1: Infrastructure and Utilities: It is policy of the Council to:

Ensure the provision of adequate infrastructure capacity to accommodate future development and the timely provision of infrastructure needed for the sustainable growth of Abbeyfeale.

9.1      Water and Wastewater Infrastructure

Uisce Eireann is responsible for the provision and operation of public water and wastewater services across the country. Limerick City and County Council delivers water services in accordance with a Service Level Agreement with Uisce Eireann. The Water Services Strategic Plan (WSSP) published in 2015 by Uisce Eireann sets out strategic objectives for the delivery of water services over a 25-year period and a context for investment and implementation plans. Uisce Eireann and Limerick City and County Council work together to identify the water services required to support planned development, in line with national and regional planning objectives. Abbeyfeale’s public water supply is served by the Abbeyfeale Water Resource Zone (WRZ).  The regional water resource plan for the South-West region is being finalised by Uisce Eireann and will identify approaches to address the future water supply needs of Abbeyfeale in a sustainable manner.   This involves ground water investigations to determine if the existing supply can be augmented and the long-term plan is to connect Abbeyfeale to the Listowel WRZ.  The Abbeyfeale Water Treatment Plant, located to the south of the town will be upgraded for water quality purposes when the interconnection to Listowel is progressed in the next investment programme period, which is 2025 – 2029. There is sufficient capacity to accommodate envisaged population growth of this Plan.

In terms of wastewater, Uisce Eireann identifies that there is potential spare capacity of 370 population equivalent available to serve future development of the town, while also complying with discharge license requirements.  Consequently, there is insufficient capacity available to cater for the total projected population growth set out in Chapter 3 of the Draft Plan.  An upgrade of the Abbeyfeale Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) is not included in the 2022 – 2024 Uisce Eireann Investment Plant.  The preparation of the subsequent investment plan will involve statutory consultation with planning authorities in 2023.  In order to ensure the adequate protection and management of the environment, the requirements of this Local Area Plan, including those detailed under Objective IU 02 below, must be demonstrated as being complied with in order for planning permission to be granted

Uisce Eireann and Limerick City and County Council are continually progressing leakage reduction activities, mains rehabilitation and capital maintenance in the water and sewer network.  Both agencies will continue to monitor the performance of the networks to ensure that the most urgent works are prioritised as required.  There are no know major wastewater or public mains network constraints in Abbeyfeale.  However, localised upgrades/extensions may be required to facilitate development.  Potential developers are advised to contact Uisce Eireann regarding potential connections to the public networks an early stage of the design process.

Objective IU 01: Water Supply Infrastructure: It is an objective of the Council to:

  1. Ensure compliance for infrastructure led-growth in accordance with the DHPLG Water Services Guidelines for Planning Authorities.
  2. Facilitate improvements to the existing water supply system to cater for the needs of an expanding population.
  3. Ensure that development proposals provide adequate water infrastructure to facilitate proposed developments.       Evidence of consultation by developers with Uisce Eireann prior to submitting planning applications will be required.
  4. Ensure future development protects existing wayleave and buffer zones around public water services infrastructure.
  5. Promote water conservation and demand management measures among all water users, and to support Uisce Eireann in implementing water conservation measures such as leakage reduction and network improvements, including innovative solutions in specific situations.
  6. Proposals for abstractions of water will be subject to the appropriate environmental assessments and demonstrate compliance with the requirements of Article 6 of the Habitats Directive and the Water Framework Directive.

 Objective IU 02: Wastewater Infrastructure: It is an objective of the Council to:

a) Support the implementation of the Uisce Eireann Investment Plans, in accordance with the settlement strategy of the RSES and Development Plan.

b) Ensure adequate wastewater infrastructure is available to cater for existing and proposed development, in collaboration with Uisce Eireann, avoiding any deterioration in the quality of receiving waters and ensuring discharge meets the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. This includes the separation of foul and surface water through the provision of separate networks and nature-based rainwater management measures. Applications for development under the Draft Plan must demonstrate that the proposal for development would not adversely affect a water body’s ability to meet its objectives under the Water Framework Directive, individually as a result of the proposed development or cumulatively, in combination with other developments – evidence to this effect may include correspondence from Uisce Eireann.

9.2      Surface Water Management and SuDS

Adequate storm water drainage and retention facilities are necessary to accommodate surface water runoff from existing and proposed developments. Rivers, streams and ditches containing watercourses are important blue green infrastructure corridors and habitats in Abbeyfeale, providing multi-functional eco-system services such as land drainage, recreational amenity, and clean/cool air and wildlife corridors. In the past, surface water management has tended to focus on intervention with the use of methods such as piping, culverting and installation of underground attenuation tanks. Using natural solutions to manage surface water can be cost effective and yield results that improve environmental quality. The use of natural drainage systems at surface level through utilisation of existing drains, natural slopes and existing ponds and natural wetland areas should be considered in the first instance. Approaches to manage surface water that take account of water quantity (flooding), water quality (pollution), biodiversity (wildlife and plants) and amenity are collectively referred to as Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS).  SuDS can contribute to surface water retention and a reduction in the potential for flooding by acting as natural drainage.   Using natural solutions to manage surface water can yield results that improve environmental quality.  The Council will be informed by the Government guidance Nature-based Solutions to the Management of Rainwater and Surface Water Run-off in Urban Areas – Best Practice Interim Guidance, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, 2022. 

Objective IU 03: Surface Water Management and SuDS: It is an objective of the Council to:

a) Maintain, improve and enhance the environmental and ecological quality of surface waters and groundwater, including reducing the discharges of pollutants or contaminants to waters in accordance with the Draft River Basin Management Plan for Ireland 2022-2027 (DHPLG) and associated Programme of Measures.

b) Require all planning applications to include surface water design calculations to establish the suitability of drainage between the site and the outfall point.

c) Require all new developments to include Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) to control surface water outfall and protect water quality.

d) Require applicants to investigate the potential for the provision of porous surfaces, where car parking and hard landscaping is proposed.

e) Protect the surface water resources of the plan area and in individual planning applications request the provision of sediment and grease traps, and pollution control measures, where deemed necessary.

9.3      Flood Risk Management

Flooding is a natural process that can happen at any time in a wide variety of locations and the severity of which is set to increase due to the effects of climate change. The most significant source of flood risk in Abbeyfeale is fluvial from the floodplains of the River Feale and the River Allaughan in the town and the Glórach stream flowing at the rear of Main Street.  Flooding from rivers and prolonged, intense and localised rainfall can also cause sewer flooding, overland flooding and groundwater flooding. Flooding has significant impacts on human activities as it can threaten lives, livelihoods, housing, transport, and public service infrastructure and commercial/ industrial enterprises. The impacts of both flooding and climate change can be significant and wide reaching. Developments in inappropriate locations can exacerbate the problems of flooding by accelerating and increasing surface water run-off, altering watercourses and removing floodplain storage.

Climate change increases flood risk, leading to more frequent flooding and an increase in the depth and extent of flooding.  A new approach is needed to manage our future in a planned, productive and sustainable way with increased emphasis on travel patterns, energy use and the protection of the environment. The challenges of climate change and the transition to a low carbon society is a key component of national and regional policies and is a significant cross cutting theme to be included throughout much of the policy and objectives in the Limerick Development Plan and the Draft Abbeyfeale LAP.  Careful consideration of flood risk is now a key requirement in the preparation of the LAP and in determining planning applications.

To comply with the EU Floods Directive and in line with the guidelines for Planning Authorities, an assessment of flood risk has been formally taken into account in the preparation of this plan. The objective of “The Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines” is to integrate flood risk management into the planning process, thereby assisting in the delivery of sustainable development. For this to be achieved, flood risk must be assessed as early as possible in the planning process.

This LAP has been prepared to ensure that: (a) flood risk is avoided where possible; (b) where avoidance is not possible, less vulnerable uses have been substituted for more vulnerable ones, and; (c) risk is mitigated and managed where avoidance and substitution are not possible.

A Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) for Abbeyfeale has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the DoEHLG and OPW ‘The Planning and Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities’, and accompanies this Draft Plan.  This ensures that flood risk management is integrated into the spatial planning policies of the Draft LAP.  The Flood Risk map prepared as part of the SFRA highlights potential development areas that require the application of a Justification Test and/or more detailed assessment at a site-specific level.  The SFRA also provides guidelines for development within areas at potential risk of flooding, and specifically looks at flood risk and the potential for development within a number of key sites in Abbeyfeale.

Constraints currently exist along the Glórach stream and associated culvert. In this regard, the Council will seek to upgrade this culvert to minimise the risk to flood. A riparian buffer will also be required on lands zoned New Residential between Cedarville and the Clash Road.  Riparian buffers are linear bands of permanent natural or semi-natural vegetation adjacent to streams and rivers.  They have a role in preventing flooding as they give room for natural dynamics of the watercourse such as rising and falling water levels, and the vegetation and soil can absorb surface water due to rainfall or rising ground water.  This reduces the channel erosion potential of watercourses and thus the potential of downstream flooding. 

Objectives IU 04: Flood Risk Management: It is an objective of the Council to:

  1. Manage flood risk in accordance with the requirements of “The Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities”, DECLG and OPW (2009) and any revisions thereof and consider the potential impacts of climate change in the application of these guidelines.
  2. Ensure development proposals within the areas outlined as being at risk of flooding are subject to Site Specific Flood Risk Assessment as outlined in “The Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines”, DECLG and OPW (2009).  These Flood Risk Assessments shall consider climate change impacts and adaptation measures including details of structural and non-structural flood risk management measures, such as those relating to floor levels, internal layout, flood-resistant construction, flood-resilient construction, emergency response planning and access and egress during flood events.
  3. Ensure that future developments in flood prone areas is generally limited to minor developments in line with the Circular PL 02/2014 and the Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities and ensure future development of lands within Flood Risk Zone A/B is in accordance with the plan-making Justification Tests in the SFRA.
  4. Developments on lands benefitting from Arterial Drainage Schemes shall ensure that adequate lands are preserved to allow for maintenance and access to these drainage channels.  Land identified as benefitting from these systems may be prone to flooding, as such site-specific flood risk assessments will be required as appropriate, at planning application stage.
  5. Seek to upgrade the culvert serving the Glorach stream to minimise the risk of flooding, subject to resources.
  6. Ensure the protection of a 20m riparian buffer free from development, on greenfield lands, in particular the lands zoned New Residential by the Glórach stream east of the Clash Road and west of Cedarville. 

9.4      Energy Generation, Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure

The higher-level spatial plans indicate there is significant potential to use renewable energy to achieve climate change emission reduction targets through electricity and gas networks. Low carbon technologies present an economic opportunity and green technology development is emerging as a major field of innovation and growth. The Council recognises the importance of developing renewable energy resources in the interest of delivering NZEB (Near Zero Energy Buildings).

According to the 2016 Census, 54.6% of households have broadband internet services in Abbeyfeale. The fibre broadband network will give significant economic and social advantage for Abbeyfeale, as a place to set up internet-based business, facilitate working from home and the creation of smart homes and smart buildings.  Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) and WiFi4EU Access Points (APs) have been installed in the town at St. Ita’s Hall, Fuchsia Hair Design, The Coffee Pot, Little Nero’s and the Cellar Bar and there is a digital hub co-working space at WorkBase (former Provincial Bank) on Main Street.  The Council will continue to support the 5G rollout and National Broadband Plan.

In terms of telecommunications infrastructure, the Local Authority seeks to balance between facilitating the provision of mobile telecommunications services in the interests of social and economic progress and sustaining residential amenities, environmental quality and public health.  When considering proposals for telecommunication masts, antennae and ancillary equipment, all proposals will have regard to the Telecommunications Antennae and Support Structures Guidelines and subsequent advisory documents issued by the DECLG.

Objectives IU 05: Energy Generation, Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure: It is an objective of the Council to:

  1. Support the providers of national gas, electricity, telecommunication and digital infrastructure by safeguarding existing infrastructure from encroachment by development that might compromise the efficiency of the networks.
  2. Facilitate cooperation between utility and service providers to ensure their networks are resilient to the impacts of climate change, both in terms of design and ongoing maintenance.
  3. Facilitate improvement of telecommunications, broadband, electricity (including renewables) and gas networks infrastructure on an open access basis subject to safety requirements and proper planning and sustainable development
  4. Seek the undergrounding of all electricity, telephone and television cables.
  5. Facilitate delivery of E-Charge Points for electric vehicles at suitable locations and in new developments in line with the Limerick Development Plan.
  6. Promote and encourage the use of renewable energy sources, technologies, including district heating schemes and alternative energy retrofitting in existing and proposed developments, subject to consideration of environmental, conservation, residential and visual amenity.  In the event of grid connection to the national road network proposals should demonstrate an assessment of all alternative grid connection route options have been undertaken by the developer as part of planning application process.
  7. Support the development of Smart Homes and Smart Buildings and facilitate the foundation for Smart Limerick in accordance with the Limerick Digital Strategy 2017 – 2020.
  8. Support and promote the NZEB standard of building or equivalent for all new developments.

9.5      Waste Management and the Circular Economy

The Circular Economy and Ireland’s Waste Management policy is part of the waste hierarchy established by the EU’s Waste Framework Directive, which sets out to prioritise waste prevention, followed by re-use, recycling, recovery and finally disposal into landfill.   The Southern Region Waste Management Plan 2015 – 2021 is a framework for the prevention and management of waste in a safe and sustainable manner.

Refuse collection is carried out by a number of private contractors in the Abbeyfeale area. Abbeyfeale has a bring bank facility for recycling of glass and cans and there is are Civic Amenity Recycling facilities nearby in Newcastle West. 

Objectives IU 06: Waste Management: It is an objective of the Council to:

  1. Support the Regional Waste Management Office in implementation of the Regional Waste Management Plan and the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy – Closing the Loop, to ensure sustainable patterns of consumption and production.

Require all commercial and residential development to provide an adequate internal and external space for the correct storage of waste and recyclable materials.

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