Manx UtilitiesThank you, Mr President. 

I am delighted to be in a position, as the Chair of Manx Utilities, to bring to this Court a financial motion to finally complete a hugely important programme for our Island. 

If the additional funding is approved here today, it will allow Manx Utilities to take the necessary steps, in order to put an end to the unacceptable discharging of raw sewage into our wonderful marine environment.  

The original strategy for the “Integration and Recycling of the Island’s Sewage” (IRIS) was approved by this Court back in 1992 before a further review of the IRIS Master Plan was undertaken in October 2007, which resulted in the development of a Regional Sewage Treatment Strategy for this Island. 

Phase 1 of that Regional Sewage Treatment Strategy was completed between 2011 and 2017, but my enthusiasm for this motion here today is tinged with some sadness that we were unable to complete phase 2 of the project during the last administration, which was a promise made to the people of Peel, Laxey and Baldrine back in March 2019. 

The objective as set by the then Programme for Government was within our grasp, but alas the project teams were unable to gain the necessary planning approvals desired during the last administration. 

It should be noted that in both Peel and Laxey the proposals were discussed at length with the planning team prior to any submission, and it was believed that the Planning Officers viewed both applications favourably.

However, due to the extent of community opposition to the proposed scheme for Laxey down at the Cairn site by the harbour, Manx Utilities decided to re-appraise all options, and therefore decided not to appeal the planning decision – and as the Chair of Manx Utilities I fully endorse the decision taken. 

Although Manx Utilities were very keen to resolve the final phase of this important project for the people of this Island, we felt that further proposals would need to be supported by evidence of thorough evaluation.

In respect of Peel, the Planning Inspector reviewed our proposals at Glenfaba House, which had appeared to be the perfect location for the Peel works. 

However, what was originally seen as one of the site’s main strengths became its fundamental weakness.  

An unacceptable number of the trees covering the site that would assist in screening it from all sides were required to be removed, and the inspector concluded that more needed to be done to ensure there were no other, more suitable sites available.

As I have said, the Manx Utilities’ Board resolved that a full detailed appraisal of all of the potential options should be undertaken including a review of any pump away options to ensure that the business case for a regional strategy remained valid.  

This has involved a wide scale review of potential sites, most of which were identified in previous studies, along with some additional locations offered as part of a ‘call for sites’ exercise.

This review has involved a huge amount of work in assessing and scoring each option against a set criteria, and for the highest ranking sites the completion of concept designs and the calculation of both 25 and 50 year net present values.

A hierarchy of preferred sites has been developed with the sites ranked on a 70/30 Quality/Cost basis, prioritising environmental and carbon impact.  

A validation of the ranking using a 50/50 evaluation basis was also carried out.  

Mr President 

As I referenced earlier, in both catchments, Manx Utilities were challenged to consider a ‘pump away’ solution in which all flows are pumped back to the sewage treatment works at Meary Veg.  

I can confirm that the business case for the regional solution is confirmed and that pumping back to Meary Veg is not Manx Utilities’ preferred option as our calculations have proved it to be more costly.  

For each catchment, nearly £5 million of additional capital would be required in the first year for the pump away option, with each of these options being much more expensive over a 50 year evaluation period.  

In Garff in particular, a 50 year Net Present Value evaluation shows that the pump away option is around £6 million more expensive. 

To change course now would also add significant delay in delivering this key infrastructure beyond the proposed completion date of 2024 – and that simply isn’t fair on the people of Peel, Laxey and Baldrine, who want these works completed as soon as possible. 

In line with the new requirements of the “Climate Change Act” the project team have also undertaken detailed carbon assessments that have also highlighted that a pump away solution has a significantly higher carbon cost across its lifetime, compared to a regional approach. 

Therefore a pump away solution would not support our broader objective to support climate improvement initiatives and to reduce our carbon emissions.

Manx Utilities has also engaged fully with the local communities, with Local Authorities and elected Members for Garff and Peel to ensure as much information is available as possible, along with answering questions and addressing any concerns. 

For Garff, whilst separate treatment works sites were originally proposed for the catchments of Laxey and Baldrine, the review of sites has identified options to deliver a combined scheme between both villages, which we believe addresses the concerns raised within the community about the proposed location of the treatment works. 

Our modelling indicates that the discharge from the works, which will utilise the existing Laxey outfall pipe, will not prevent the bathing water from receiving a classification of ‘Excellent’ under our Water Quality (Bathing Water Standards and Objectives) Scheme 2021. 

As we have previously stated, pumping infrastructure will be required at both the Cairns site in Laxey and the Glen Garwick estate in Baldrine, both of which are now in Manx Utilities’ ownership, thereby enabling us to move quickly, should approval be received by this Honourable Court today.  

Mr President 

It is worth mentioning that infrastructure will be required at these sites irrespective of the final solution. 

On completion of the scheme the balance of the Glen Garwick Estate will be sold and the proceeds returned to Treasury. 

Calculations and analysis have concluded that a combined works offers an excellent solution for both Garff and the Island as a whole, in terms of cost, environmental impact and bathing water quality.

Claims by local interest groups that the pump away option is far cheaper than regional are without basis, and I ask Members of this Honourable Court to trust the professional engineers and the industry recognised experts with regards to the calculations and conclusions in respect of the costs and the environmental impact relating to Phase 2 of the Regional Sewerage Treatment Strategy.  

For Peel, the review has concluded that there are three sites including one within the Peel Town boundary, which offers a better solution in terms of a combined cost and quality score than the Glenfaba House site. 

Should the procurement of these sites not be achievable for values deemed acceptable by the Government Valuer, then we will revert back to Glenfaba House, having evidence for the planning process that all other options have now been fully explored. 

We are also expecting the performance of the plant proposed for Peel to achieve ‘Excellent’ bathing water quality for normal operations and ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ standards for storm flows, and it is our intention to closely monitor the performance. 

If required additional performance enhancement options can be considered such as further surface water separation and/or outfall pipe extension.

Members will also see reference within the motion to works required at Meary Veg. 

These works will duplicate sludge import facilities at Meary Veg and provide greater storage of dried sewage sludge, which will increase efficiency and resilience, therefore reducing operating costs and the risk of plant failure. 

Mr President 

I know Members and the wider Manx community will be concerned about the increase in costs from the original £23.5 million approved by this Honourable Court back in 2019, to the £40.45 million requested here today. 

A direct comparison of these two figures would not be comparing apples with apples. 

Significant expenditure on professional fees and land acquisition were funded separately from that original amount, and we have now also included additional works to allow for the processing of the Raggatt Leachate – something I’m sure you will all feel is absolutely vital, and it also fulfils recommendation 4 of the Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee report from May 2018, which I Chaired. 

There is also a significant amount of additional infrastructure required for the Garff strategy in the form of pipelines and pumping stations. 

ding this, there has been an unprecedented increase in general construction costs over the last 3 years, and this does make up a significant percentage of the increase. 

Unfortunately, if we want to resolve this situation now this cannot be avoided. 

In any case, it is highly unlikely that construction costs will reduce in the near future, so the sooner we can put contracts in place for these schemes the better it will be for both our finances and the environment.

The cost estimate presented to this Honourable Court back in 2007 for the completion of the whole Regional Sewage Treatment Strategy was £85.1 million. 

With Phase 1 of the strategy completed £11 million under budget for just over £28 million and the works completed at Ballagarey and Ballaugh and planned for Crosby, Glen Vine, St Johns and Sulby, our total expenditure is now expected to be in the region of £85 million, which still in line with that original cost estimate.

As the Chair of Manx Utilities I am very concerned that we need to get on with this programme, and you may hear arguments today that we should undertake a further independent review of my Board’s costings and evaluations.

Unfortunately, any request to go through further financial assessment and validation will without doubt mean that solving the problem once and for all is very unlikely to happen within this administration. 

As I have mentioned previously, that isn’t fair on the majority of the people living in Laxey, Baldrine and Peel or for our visitors to our Island or for local residents who use these two very important beaches. 

Manx Utilities is 100% behind its proposals and is absolutely confident in the appraisals which have been undertaken.  

Mr President,

As an Island we have been discussing the recycling of the Island’s sewage waste for over 30 years, but Members’ support here today will help bring us closer to ceasing the discharge of raw sewage into sea on the remaining three locations of our Island’s coastline.

I stand before you today totally endorsing my Board’s methods and appraisals, and with your support Manx Utilities can progress these schemes and move forward to deliver on our UNESCO Biosphere pledge of working together for a sustainable future.

Mr President – I beg to move the motion standing in my name….