The Isle of Man sits in the middle of the Irish Sea, surrounded by the United Kingdom (UK) coasts of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is, however, independently governed by its own Parliament, Tynwald, and is not part of the European Union (formerly the European Community, EC). A radical scheme for the integrated sewerage provision of the whole of the Island, of population approximately 65,000, involving centralised treatment and re-use of sewage sludges, has been accepted in principle. The policy adopted, as realised in the so-called ‘IRIS’ scheme, goes beyond the level of provision called for by the recent EC Directive on Urban Wastewater Treatment, yet the threat posed by the Isle of Man to the waters of the Irish Sea is negligible in comparison to the major inputs from its more populous neighborus. The geographic separation of the Island from the major pollution inputs from the British and Irish mainlands should ensure unobstructed assimilation of its releases by the marine environment. In many instances the coastal communities of the island, through their small size, would be without the statutory responsibility for land based treatment provision, even if bound by the EC legislation. This article, based on evidence presented to Public Inquiry on a first phase of the scheme's implementation, expresses the view that the strategy for future sewerage provision should be re- evaluated in the light of the flexibilities in implementation which would be afforded to the Isle of Man under the EC legislation. More fundamentally, however, it is suggested that the ‘marine treatment’ option using long- sea outfalls should be incorporated in the range of scheme options to be evaluated against achievement of a ‘best environmental solution’. The argument developed herein draws extensively on the background leading to the UK Water Industry's reluctant adoption of the EC legislation. These circumstances are considered worthy of report in their own right and the Isle of Man provides an ideal case study.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.