Adjournment Debate Wednesday 25th May 2011 – Water Services to Intel

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: I thank the Office of the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me to raise this issue regarding the necessary infrastructure for the continued expansion of Intel in Leixlip. Intel is one of Ireland’s biggest employers, with over 4,000 people working in either chip manufacturing or research and development. Indirectly, Intel supports up to eight times this number in the business and service sector in the Kildare, Meath and Dublin areas.

One of the main reasons the company located at this site more than two decades ago was that necessary infrastructure was available along with a qualified labour market. Currently, Intel is retrofitting an existing building as this would be cheaper than starting from scratch. This $500 million investment will create 850 construction jobs in the two year fit-out of this building and the move will create more than 1,000 new jobs in this facility. Key to all this investment, however, is the continued attractiveness of Ireland as a place to invest, particularly with our 12.5% corporation tax. I was delighted to tour the facility recently with the managing director, Eamonn Sinnott, and the Taoiseach, who stressed that the existing rate of corporation tax would be maintained. Consequently, I was delighted to hear the Minister, Deputy Noonan, reiterate this in Paris today.

There is also a well-qualified labour market and, in this regard, Intel has developed links with local schools and NUI Maynooth. In addition, there is the issue of the necessary infrastructure to support this expansion, which includes the huge water requirements of this plant. For the previous two winters, during extreme weather conditions many homes in the area of Celbridge, Leixlip and Maynooth suffered severe water shortages while the council was able to maintain supplies to keep the Intel plant at Leixlip operating. With this new expansion, there needs to be an increase in the water quantities made available to this area of north Kildare.

We all know that in the eastern region, water supply is on a knife edge. It would be a shame that employment would suffer as a result of water shortage. There was previous experience of this when lack of a sufficient water supply in the county resulted in a potential major employer locating elsewhere. I urge the Minister to allow the funding to be made available as soon as possible to improve water supply, not alone for the potential jobs being generated but also for the householders and small businesses in the area. It is of no use to sanction funds for upgrading the water supply after the factory has been retrofitted, resulting in Intel being unable to commence operations in this facility. It is urgent that this water upgrade occurs in tandem with the retrofit expansion. Consequently, will the Minister of State assure the House the necessary funds will be made available immediately and that Kildare County Council will speedily upgrade the water supply to this area?

Deputy Ciarán Cannon: I thank Deputy Lawlor, on behalf of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Phil Hogan, for the opportunity to set out the current position in regard to the provision of water infrastructure in north Kildare, with a particular emphasis on infrastructure which supports and encourages economic development in the area. Significant water services infrastructural development is taking place countrywide at present and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s water services investment programme 2010-12 is providing the funding to support this development. In addition to its public health, environmental compliance and water conservation focus, this programme has among its stated objectives the need to support economic and employment growth throughout the country.

Exchequer funding of €435 million has been provided for the water services capital programme in 2011, with €350 million of this provision dedicated to the water services investment programme and the balance of €85 million allocated to the rural water programme.

The water services investment programme comprises 130 contracts and water conservation projects which were in progress at the end of 2009, to the value of €1 billion; 340 new contracts with an estimated value of €1.8 billion, including around 80 water conservation contracts, with an estimated value of €321 million, that have been prioritised to start construction over the period 2010-2012; and 190 schemes and water conservation projects to be progressed through their earlier planning stages during 2010-2012.

In County Kildare alone, there are three contracts listed as at construction, and a further 14 are listed to start during the lifetime of the programme. The estimated cost of these contracts is just over €172 million. As part of the programme, the Barrow abstraction water supply scheme is one of the most significant projects being undertaken in the county. Although the contract for this scheme was signed only recently, when completed it will provide County Kildare with a new water treatment plant at Srowland, thereby reducing Kildare’s future demand on the Liffey system that serves the greater Dublin area.

As part of the overall Kildare county water strategy, the Srowland water supply will enable Kildare County Council to become more self-reliant in respect of the supply of water in the county. A further element of that strategy, the Castlewarden-Ballygoran water pipeline and reservoir contract, recently approved to go to tender by the Minister, Deputy Hogan, will utilise water from Srowland and deliver it to Ballygoran in north Kildare. This contract, consisting of a new 20,000 cu m service reservoir at Ballygoran and over 17.5 km of water main, will bring water to Barberstown Cross and the western area of Celbridge. The new reservoir will also supply water to the Maynooth, Celbridge, Leixlip and Straffan areas. Any requirements to meet the upgrading of facilities at Intel can be accommodated through a pipeline link from this supply to Intel and this can be completed within a very short time.

The Minister is keenly aware of the existing economic and employment benefits of an enterprise such as Intel. The Deputy can be assured that his Department continues to work closely with Kildare County Council to advance the water supply, and other water services infrastructure requirements of the area.