Acting Chief Executive Shane Tiernan told Monday’s meeting of Roscommon County Council that the local authority remains committed to finding a solution to flooding at Lough Funshinagh but that it could take up to five years.
Mr. Tiernan said that senior members of the executive had met with OPW officials as recently as last Friday and the local authority was now on a ‘slow path’ which would involve detailed analysis of the turlough with a view to finding an environmental solution.
He said the Council would be the lead agency and could not rely on changes to existing legislation in the short-term. He added that the National Parks and Wildlife Service had ruled out a de-designation of Lough Funshinagh as a Special Area of Conservation.
“We (OPW and Council) agree that we need to move forward on what I’m calling the slow path, which will be a long and difficult path which will take at least two, but more realistically five years,” he said.
The Acting Chief Executive told members that the OPW had committed financial support to finding an environmental solution to the crisis and would also fund the replacement of existing pumps with two high-powered pumps at the turlough this winter.
The OPW, he said, had also undertaken to carry out detailed analysis in order to fill in any “knowledge gaps” concerning the lake.
The Chief Executive said the local authority had continued to work hard behind the scenes and that a steering group, chaired by Mr. Tiernan and an expert working group, chaired by Director of Services Greg O’Donnell, would work to establish all viable solutions with a view to lodging a planning application for future works.
Mr. Tiernan said the work of both groups would be “very complex and detailed” in order to give the Council the “highest chance of success” and it was laden with risk due to the turlough’s SAC designation.
He said the expert working group would meet very early in the New Year.
“This is not much consolation for the local residents…all we can do is hope that the lake does not exceed the critical 69-metre level we have identified over the last number of years,” he said.
Commenting this week, local councillor Laurence Fallon said: “This is new territory and we now must start at the beginning after we were forced to concede the High Court challenges (by Friends of the Irish Environment) but it is positive that Roscommon County Council are taking the lead,” he said.
“It’s also positive that we are starting on a pathway which may find a solution. The negative of course is that we don’t know what will happen at the end”.
Cllr Fallon said he was satisfied that there was now some clarity as to the way forward but said the flooding was still an urgent matter and required all parties to come together to find a solution.