Emergency flood relief works at Lough Funshinagh, Co Roscommon, were ceased on Friday following a High Court injunction taken by Friends of the Irish Environment.

Roscommon County Council has said that a legal team has been engaged on its behalf to defend the flood-relief plans.

“Roscommon County Council confirms, with huge regret, that it has been forced to pause urgent flood relief works to protect local people, their homes and their livelihoods at Lough Funshinagh,” the council said.

“Subject to ensuring completion of the necessary site safety and security works at the location, all works will cease immediately.

“Despite its best efforts, today the council was forced to suspend these urgent flood relief works due to a High Court injunction taken by a Dublin legal firm instructed by the Friends of the Irish Environment CLG of Kilcatherine, Eyeries, Beara, Co Cork,” the county council stated on Friday.

High Court injunction

Friends of the Irish Environment allegedly brought the injunction against Roscommon County Council after it claimed that the council was unable to produce proof that all relevant planning permission and impact studies were obtained before construction on the works began.

The impact of flooding on farms in the vicinity of Lough Funshinagh has escalated in the past number of years, with the most recent damage caused to farms and homes seen in the period from January to April 2021, according to Roscommon County Council.

The council began the relief project - which it has described as “small-scale” - in June of this year and had it been expected to reach completion within four months.

The project had been intended to both protect farms and homes, as well as allowing a return of habitats to areas designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) previously affected by flooding from the lake, the council stated.

IFA response

Roscommon IFA chair Jim O'Connor has expressed concern at the recent developments in the flood relief works, confirming that the IFA had been in contact with Roscommon County Council since the injunction was made.

“We understand that the council is hopeful that it can be resolved before the courts at the end of the month,” O’Connor said.

“We made our views clear that if this emergency work is not completed before this winter, it will pose a massive threat to human and animal life and has the potential to be economically devastating for farmers and householders,” he continued.

Threatening farms

O’Connor claimed that farmers with lands near the lake have had farm payments cut at the same time that their land and buildings came under ever-increasing pressures from the rising levels of the lake.

“Local farmers contacted IFA on this issue over the last number of years. However, the situation worsened radically in the last 12 months when water levels surpassed those in living memory.

“Many of the 44 farmers with land adjacent to the lough had their property threatened and farm payments cut due to rising water levels,” the Roscommon IFA chair added.