Fear of court action delay to Bandon drainage works

A court has heard concerns that major drainage works on the Bandon River could be delayed unless an action brought by Inland Fisheries Ireland against three contractors on the project is resolved.

Looby Partners Water Services Ltd, Rivus Ltd, and Wills Bros Ltd are being prosecuted by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) over an alleged incident on May 10, 2017, during work on the Bandon flood relief scheme in Co Cork.

All three companies face two charges under the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 as amended, of injuring or disturbing a spawning bed, a bank of shallow where the spawn or fry of salmon, trout, or eels may be, and of injuring or disturbing the spawn or fry of salmon, trout, or eels.

The three defendants are contesting the charges.

The first day of the hearing heard the prosecution case.

This case included allegations that as many as 400 fish may have been killed in the incident, although the actual figure and the circumstances of the incident were contested.

The hearing was adjourned when Judge Mary Dorgan said that she needed material relating to the contract for the project and, more specifically, the element of the contract in relation to fish and maintaining fish in the river during the works.

The works were described by one witness as one of the biggest jobs of its kind currently being undertaken in Europe.

At Bandon District Court last week, Judge Dorgan was told that while more documentation had been handed in to court — including the entire Environmental Impact Statement relating to the drainage project — there still needed to be agreement on some other documentation.

Plunkett Taaffe, solicitor for Rivus Ltd, said there was some “anxiety” and pressure in relation to the hearing as the works were currently suspended on the project until May 1 for the fishing season and there was a worry that a further delay could be caused by the court proceedings.

Mr Taaffe also said that the document that had not been produced on the first day of the hearing, that was sought by the court, had been a prosecution document.

“There is serious pressure in relation to this,” said Mr Taaffe.

Judge Dorgan said there were two things that were key to the case — flooding in Bandon and the fish in the river.

She adjourned the matter until next Friday, March 23, when it is hoped a date will be set for the remainder of the hearing.


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