Council admits Lough Funshinagh work didn't comply with environmental directives
In a statement issued today (Thursday), Roscommon County Council said it accepted that its emergency flood relief work at Lough Funshinagh did not comply with its obligations under environmental directives.
The local authority said its construction of an emergency overflow pipleline from Lough Funshinagh to Lough Ree was being done for "urgent humanitarian reasons" but it now acknowledged that the work could not continue until environmental studies were undertaken.
The council said it "deeply regrets" that the expectations of the local community in flood-hit areas such as Ballagh, Rahara, Lisfelim and Ardmullen had been dashed.
Work on the council's 2.9km overflow pipeline from Lough Funshinagh to Lough Ree started in early June and had been supported by the Minister for the OPW, Patrick O'Donovan.
The pipeline was due to be operational by October and was designed to prevent the severe winter flooding that has become an annual occurrence in the area in recent years.
The work has now stopped on foot of the High Court injunction secured by the Friends of the Irish Environment group which warned that the project could cause "unintended and catastrophic" ecological impacts.
Roscommon County Council said today that the High Court challenge which stopped the project had "highlighted the legal obstacles that exist, even when urgent works are required."
Here is today's Roscommon County Council statement on Lough Funshinagh in full:
"In Court yesterday, Roscommon County Council’s legal representatives stated that the Council acted for urgent humanitarian reasons to prevent flooding in exercise of its powers under the Local Authorities (Works) Act, 1949, but accepted that there are further obligations under the Environmental Directives that the Council must comply with.
Mr. Justice Simons of the High Court commended the Council’s approach to the litigation.
The situation arose because the obligations under EU environmental law have not been transposed in respect of the Local Authorities (Works) Act, 1949.
Roscommon County Council has been left with no option but to accept that flood relief works at Lough Funshinagh cannot continue until environmental studies have been undertaken.
The Council will not spend any more valuable time on litigation, but instead will move forward with environmental assessments as soon as possible.
It is disappointing that it is going to take a bit longer to deliver a solution to the flooding hardship that the local community has to continue to endure.
The Council deeply regrets that the expectations of the local community have been dashed.
It was always the case that the works were being carried out to protect and keep the community safe. The legal challenge faced by this Council highlighted the legal obstacles that
exist even when urgent works are required. Consideration should be given as to the transposition of EU law to apply to circumstances where such emergency intervention is required."