An environmental group could be set to seek a High Court injunction to halt overflow pipe works at Lough Funshinagh near Rahara in South Roscommon.
The Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) group has described the works as “one of the worst environmental breaches ever undertaken by a local authority” in a statement released this week.
Solicitors for the conservation group requested the immediate cease of works on Thursday last until a valid decision granting permission for the works is produced.
Works to remove excess water, which involves the laying of a 2.6km overflow pipe to Lough Ree, were launched in June last by Roscommon County Council and Minister of State for the Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan.
In its statement on Monday, FIE confirmed that it had issued a solicitor’s letter to the local authority to cease work on draining Lough Funshinagh, “a turlough protected under the habitats directive, until the necessary studies, and planning permission had been carried out”.
The group says it was advised by ecologist Dr. William O’Connor, who was quoted as saying that the construction works could have an unintended catastrophic impact because of the local geology.
Rising floodwater at the turlough has already led to one house being abandoned permanently while another elderly couple were forced to leave their home due to flooding fears.
Roscommon County Council has so far declined to comment on the matter.
However, Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has accused FIE of “needlessly threatening to meddle” in the works at Lough Funshinagh.
“Personally, I do not see how someone can be looking for an injunction when the designated site hasn’t even been touched. These are emergency works; there are elderly people’s lives at risk. These works will actually benefit the designated area itself and its habitats,” he said.
“If this environmental lobby group had any regard for the so-called annexes that are in designated areas, they wouldn’t even be thinking of going into courts to block these works. Hopefully common sense will prevail and these meddlers will not try to delay any works that are being done as we are approaching yet another winter”.
The Independent TD said that the works currently being carried out would only accommodate the final part of the project.
“It is awful easy for someone from a lobby group to be up on a pedestal preaching when the turlough isn’t at their door, threatening to flood their home.
“On top of that, it shows the disregard they have; all they’re interested in is obstruction, because if they actually looked at the situation, they would agree that the turlough is not functioning,” he concluded.