Statement from Roscommon County Council on 13th August 2021
Flood Relief Works at Lough Funshinagh
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.
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.
Subject to ensuring completion of the necessary Site Safety and Security works at the location all works will cease immediately.
Roscommon County Council has engaged an expert legal team and assures the community, that is living with the devastating effects of flooding in the area, that it will work in their very best interests to vigorously defend the project. The Council will continue to actively support the community and do all we can to ensure these urgent works are allowed to continue as soon as possible.
From January to April 2021, devastating flooding impacted the environment and the local community, including many elderly people. Families had to leave their homes; farm animals were endangered; several public roads were severely impacted or closed; and flora and fauna around the lake and in the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) was damaged and completely destructed.
Moreover, since 2016, life-threatening and escalating flooding at Lough Funshinagh has been damaging properties, causing distress and fear amongst local people, and destroying the environment.
Currently the water levels are 2.5-3 metres (8-9 feet) higher than usual for this time of year and studies predict a risk of even more flooding in 2022, and beyond. Therefore, the Council is planning ahead by laying a preparatory overflow pipe in the ground now, to be ready for dangerous flooding should recent recorded heavy rainfall occur in the years ahead.
The Council’s objective is to tackle the continuing rise in water levels in order to protect people and property, as well as the status of the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and unique features of Lough Funshinagh. The Council therefore exercised its powers to commence the urgent flood relief works under the Local Government (Works) Act 1949. Friends of the Irish Environment are now challenging the works on environmental grounds.
Water Levels in Lough Funshinagh
The water level in Lough Funshinagh varies, depending on the season. Typically it is between 64.50 and 66.50 metres above sea level. Occasionally, the Lough empties completely through natural causes, approximately every 30 years.
Up to recently, unusually high levels of water in Lough Funshinagh were rare. However, for four of the past six years, exceptionally high levels of water were recorded and resulted in flooding, asfollows:
- 68.25m in March 2016
- 67.49m in April 2018
- 68.25m in March 2020
- 69.03m in April 2021
A 2.9km overflow pipe is being put in the ground between Lough Funshinagh and a local stream which flows to the River Shannon at Lough Ree. This small-scale flood relief project commenced in June 2021 and was expected to be completed in four months, by October 2021.
As well as protecting local people, their homes and their farms, drawing off the excessive flood waters from the Lough will also return flora, fauna and their habitats to the designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) which had been lost and destroyed by recent flooding. Roscommon County Council has always strived to nurture and protect Lough Funshinagh and the SAC and it has ensured that Environmental Monitoring is a key element of the project. The majority of the work is outside of the SAC; and no work was done in the SAC so far.
As this matter remains before the Courts, Roscommon County Council will be making no further comment on the matter.