News

"Not true" - Council CEO rejects FIE court contempt claim over flood relief works

Oct 29, 2021 14:10 By Shannonside News
"Not true" - Council CEO rejects FIE court contempt claim over flood relief works "Not true" - Council CEO rejects FIE court contempt claim over flood relief works
Share this article

The CEO of Roscommon Co Council has denied claims by an Environmental Protection Group that the local authority has breached an agreement over the halting of works on a flood relief scheme.

The Friends of the Irish Environment group claims the council is in contempt of court arising out of the council's plan, announced earlier this month, to continue to construct a 3km pipeline taking water from Lough Funshinagh to nearby Lough Ree.

The council proposed to use the pipeline in order to protect several homes from severe flooding.

Advertisement

FIE seeks an order from the Court that Roscommon Co Council's CEO Mr Eugene Cummins, be attached and brought before the court to answer the alleged contempt.

FIE claims the council has failed to comply with its obligations under the Remediation Plan agreed between the parties when the dispute initially came before the court last August.

When the case was briefly mentioned before the High Court on Friday, Mr Justice Garrett Simons was told by Neil Steen SC for the council that his client rejects claims that it is contempt of court.

Advertisement

In a sworn statement to the Court Mr Cummins said that several phases of the mediation plan have been completed or complied in full.

Several other phases are either substantially or partially complete, with the balance delayed by adverse weather conditions and are pending the identification of an approved waste handling facility.

He added that some phases of the plan are "not yet complete", and cannot be done until others steps under the reinstatement plan have been finalised.

Advertisement

Last August FIE launched proceedings aimed at quashing the Council's decision to allow works, including the construction of the pipeline.

The court initially granted FIE a temporary order halting work on the project, located some 12km north of Athlone.

The action was resolved after the Council consented to orders quashing its decision permitting the proposed works to proceed.

Advertisement

As part of the settlement the Council also consented to an order remediating the lands the subject of the proceedings.

The Council also agreed to pay the costs of FIE's judicial review challenge against the decision last May to authorise the works.

The remedial works would be the subject of an agreement between the parties, it was further agreed.

Advertisement

The court also heard that the local authority accepted that it had not fulfilled certain obligations it ought to have in relation to the flood relief works.

FIE represented by John Kenny Bl, instructed by solicitor Eoin Brady, for FIE that it believes the Council has breached the orders agreed last August.

FIE claims the Council decided earlier this month, under section 152 of the 2001 Local Government Act to authorise the construction of the pipeline to allow water be pumped from Lough Funshinagh to Lough Ree.

FIE claims it was not consulted about the proposal.

FIE says that while the project was subject to screening for the purpose of complying with EU Directives on EIA and Habitats it has grave reservations about the adequacy of the screening assessments.

It claims the council has failed to comply with its obligations under the Remediation Plan agreed between the parties and is in contempt of the orders made by the Court in August.

Mr Cummins says that the allegations that the Co Council has not complied with the Remediation Plan are "not true."

He also said that the proposed emergency works the council proposes to carry out will be done in full compliance with orders made by the court.

However he said that he remained convinced that the neither the order of the court nor the remedial plan required the council to remove the installed pipework or prohibited the future use of the pipe.

Mr Cummins was also critical of FIE, who he said used "extreme language" to characterise the council's actions, without disclosing the facts that explain and justify the actions taken.

FIE he added had "called into question his position as Chief Executive."

He said it would be inappropriate for him to answer questions from the media, prompted by FIE's campaign, before giving his explanation to the High Court.

Mr Justice Simons adjourned the matter for hearing next Tuesday.

The judge said that there was no need for Mr Cummins to attend the hearing.

FIE's action in August centred around the construction and laying of the pipe that would have seen water from Lough Funshinagh, which is a Special Area of Conservation, pumped into the larger Lough Ree.

The works were commenced because people living in the area have been subject to flooding in recent years, and there are concerns that some may have to abandon their homes.

FIE had claimed that the proposed works had the potential to lead to serious environmental damage and priority habitat loss, and that the works had been given the go-ahead by the council in breach of both EU and domestic laws.

Share this article
Advertisement
Advertisement

Shannonside Newsletter

Sign up now to keep up to date with the latest news.

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now! please check your email to confirm your subscription.

Copyright © 2022 Shannonside FM. Developed by Square1 and Powered by PublisherPlus