The government is set to try to derail a select committee report calling for a costs review of its sewage treatment strategy.

It is poised to oppose several key recommendations from Tynwald’s environmental and infrastructure policy review committee next week.

Moreover, in a formal response, it criticises that committee’s report.

Manx Utilities chairman Ramsey MHK Dr Alex Allinson pens a foreword to the Council of Ministers’ response.

He claims the select committee, in calling for an independent review of costs of the strategy for Peel, St John’s and Central Valley, ignored an independent review commissioned by Manx Utilities.

He states: ’Manx Utilities are disappointed that this independent report, which dealt with a number pertinent issues, seems to have been ignored by the committee.

’Furthermore, the committee appears to have given undue importance and influence to a very limited number of witnesses with obvious conflicts of interest.’

The EIC, chaired by Onchan MHK Rob Callister, had concluded there were valid concerns about calculations relied on by Manx Utilities in support of building a regional sewage treatment works in Peel.

It said it was ’not convinced’ there would be a significant cost saving in pursuing a regional strategy for Peel.

That came after it was approached by engineer David Jones, who owns land next to a proposed site for Peel’s sewage treatment works.

Mr Jones claimed that Manx Utilities had exaggerated the operating costs of linking Peel to the Meary Veg plant in Santon, via the IRIS network, by about £13m.

Tynwald voted in 2009 to abandon the all-island IRIS approach to sewage treatment in favour of a regional strategy for the north and west.

The Council of Ministers response to the select committee’s findings is scathing.

It says: ’In casting doubt on the calculations provided by Manx Utilities, the committee appears to rely on evidence provided by David Jones.

’Mr Jones does not claim any experience of sewage treatment. His evidence misrepresents the requirements of EU legislation, makes false assumptions about Manx Utilities’ catchment population calculations, and misrepresents the impacts of future population expansion on regional treatment processes.’

The scrutiny committee report made seven recommendations, but the CoMin response calls for three to be rejected when they go before Tynwald next week.

The three it will oppose outright are:

That Treasury commissions an independent review of the costs of the scheme.

That no regional sewage works should be constructed in Peel without an extended sea outfall pipe.

That any major infrastructure project should be accompanied by a wider economic impact study.

With regards to the recommendation on a long sea outfall, the CoMin response states: ’Manx Utilities advise that the options for achieving compliance with bathing water quality will be revisited during the design process, and consider that the recommendation of a preferred option is a matter for the Peel sewage treatment works design team.’

Treasury would expect confirmation as to the potential economic impact as part of any business case for a major scheme, the response also argues.

CoMin also wants to see two other recommendations amended.

Only two are given support. These are that a solution be found for safely disposing of leachate from the Raggatt former landfill site and that the government produces a ’scoping report’ of what is needed to comply with the EU 2006 bathing water directive.

Fears have previously been raised that the select committee’s involvement would delay the building of a treatment plant in Peel. In 2016, Peel failed to meet mandatory standards for bathing water, with unscreened sewage pumped out into the sea.

Source: IoMToday