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Legal challenge to judicially review Roscommon flood works approved

Dec 21, 2021 12:12 By Shannonside News
Legal challenge to judicially review Roscommon flood works approved Legal challenge to judicially review Roscommon flood works approved
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The works began in late October but have now been halted until at least mid-January.

The High Court has granted an environmental group permission to seek a judicial review of Roscommon County's Council interim flood relief works at Lough Funshinagh.

Friends of the Irish Environment lodged legal action over concerns that the works may not confirm to planning regulations.

It's understood that a judge has granted the group permission to bring a challenge to the works in January.

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The court also set out an order that all works on the pipeline, to drain water from the flooded turlough to a stream to feed into Lough Ree, cease until mid January when the matter comes back before the court.

Roscommon County Council can also apply to have the order lifted on that date.

FIE issued a statement on the matter this morning and claim they have had 'no choice but to bring forward this action.

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"Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] were today granted permission to bring a Judicial Review of Roscommon County Council’s Interim Emergency Flood Relief Works (IEFRW)] for Lough Funshinagh approved by the Chief Executive of Roscommon County Council on 14 October 2021."

"In granting leave to apply for Judicial Review, the Court imposed a stay on any further works until 14 January, 2022, when Roscommon County Council may apply to Court to lift the stay."

"FIE has considerable sympathy with those affected by the water levels at Lough Funshinagh but the decision by the Council represents an egregious attempt to bypass environmental and planning law that, if successful, would encourage similar law breaking by other State authorities in future with potentially perilous results for nature and biodiversity conservation."

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"Thus, the outcome of these proceedings will be of considerable significance in demonstrating that European environmental law is respected by our Local Authorities, who are legally responsible for its implementation ‘in an objective manner which does not find themselves in a situation giving rise to a conflict of interest’."

"This ‘new’ project is essentially the same project as that which was quashed by the High Court on 25 August 2021, save for the fact that the permanent inflow at Lough Funshinagh is to be replaced on a temporary basis with floating pipes and mobile diesel generators."

"FIE thought long and hard about the decision to bring this case, knowing that further uncertainty would increase the burden on the residents and their supporters who have genuinely sought this scheme as the solution to their predicament. As we have constantly stated, the present project may in fact have been an appropriate engineering response to the flooding issues at Lough Funshinagh."

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"However, there have been no environmental or cost-benefit assessments conducted as required to see whether the necessary derogation procedures under the various environmental laws could be employed to authorise the works. In that regard, the advice of our legal team is that the authorised works constitute a clear breach of the EIA, Habitats, and Water Framework Directives as well as the Irish Planning Acts."

"FIE is obliged by its Principal Objects to ‘monitor the full implementation of, and assist in the development of, European law; to work for changes in the Irish planning laws that will protect the environment and promote sustainable development; and to encourage the implementation of the right to full public participation in environmental decision-making."

"For all of these reasons, FIE had no choice but to bring this action."

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