Campaigners unconvinced by Guinness assurances

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to the “plunder” of the Shannon system by Dublin City Council are unconvinced by assurances from Guinness that its new brewery in Dublin will not need to draw on water from Lough Derg.

CAMPAIGNERS opposed to the “plunder” of the Shannon system by Dublin City Council are unconvinced by assurances from Guinness that its new brewery in Dublin will not need to draw on water from Lough Derg.

Abstraction of up to 400 million litres a day from a point near Terryglass is the council’s preferred option to offset water shortages in Greater Dublin.

The River Shannon Protection Alliance (RSPA) - which has branches in Limerick and Dromineer - warned the proposal, if successful, would be hugely damaging to the environment and economy of the Lower Shannon.

The RSPA say they have been informed by an insider at drinks giant Diageo - which brews Guinness - that the brewery under construction at St James Gate was granted permission by Dublin City Council on the understanding any increase in water demand would be met through supplies from the Shannon system. By the start of 2013, Diageo will have closed its breweries in Dundalk and Kilkenny and consolidated all Irish brewing activity in Dublin.

Diageo communications executive Rhonda Evans is emphatic that Diageo has no designs on Shannon water and that the new brewery will draw on the existing water supply of Dublin City Council. Innovations in the brewing process meant that even if Diageo was producing more beer, it would require less water than at present.

But the RSPA is incredulous of such assurances, pointing out that not only would more beer be produced but more water would be needed to cleanse kegs and other vessels. The alliance further points to a statement from Dublin City Council that there would be a “net overall daily increase in demand is 0.9 megalitres per day” at the new brewery. The council stressed any increase in demand was not dependent on proposals to extract water at Lough Derg.

“Is this a case of Dublin City Council strengthening its case for Shannon water abstraction? If so, is the council actively participating in drawing jobs away from the regions (Kilkenny and Dundalk) and into Dublin on the promise of availability of hundreds of millions of litres of Shannon water on a daily basis?,” the RSPA posed in a statement this week.

“Dublin City Council has every right to attract foreign direct investment to Dublin, but drawing jobs out of regions to Dublin is another question altogether. If the closure of the Dundalk and Kilkenny breweries goes ahead, it will mean the loss of 120 jobs to these areas, already starved of development.

The RSPA had been told there was no shortage of water in either Dundalk or Kilkenny and asked Diageo “in the national interest to consider the rationale of abandoning perfectly ample supplies of water, while in turn placing additional pressure on a supply system which Dublin City Council claim - whether real or imagined - to be facing shortages”.

“Dublin City Council has no right to guarantee supplies of Shannon water to anyone, since planning permission for this needless scheme has not even been applied for and approval can by no means be assumed. And if the proposal does gain approval, that will not be the end of the matter. The campaign of opposition will continue and strengthen and will have recourse to Europe and the courts,” the RSPA warned.