Locals win court action over water supply plans

It’s back to the drawing board with plans for a long-awaited water scheme for a popular tourist area after the Circuit Court turned down a local authority’s proposals.

A small rural community in south Kerry is celebrating after succeeding in its action to prevent Kerry County Council from taking water from the River Sheen to provide a supplementary supply for Kenmare.

Seventeen people in the Bonane area, between Kenmare and Glengarriff, took the case after the council was granted approval by An Bord Pleanála for its proposal, following an oral hearing three years ago.

A campaign of opposition has been carried on locally for almost a decade.

Yesterday, Stephen O’Sullivan, of Bonane Community Council, said the community, also awarded costs in the action, was delighted with the 87-page ruling of Judge Pauline Codd.

Costs running into tens of thousands of euro were putting financial pressure on the community, he said.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and incurred a lot of expense in this case over the years and must get our costs,’’ Mr O’Sullivan said.

The council, however, can appeal Judge Codd’s decision to the High Court.

The community objected to the council’s proposal to take water from an important salmon-holding pool in the Sheen, which would adversely impact on fish life and stocks, they claimed.

Mr O’Sullivan said the water should be taken from mountain lakes in the area. But, the council argued the lakes were unsuitable and were also within a special area of conservation. The council has been warned by the EU it faces prosecution if it does not resolve the issue.

Council spokesman Padraig Corkery said they had just received Judge Codd’s extensive written judgement and would carefully consider her findings in conjunction with Irish Water.

“However, the wider issue still remains, that there is a need for an additional water source for Kenmare town,’’ he added.

Judge Codd said there was a scientific doubt regarding conclusions reached by experts with regard to proposed mitigation and monitoring measures to protect salmon and otter life on the Sheen should the scheme go ahead.

While he ruled the development did not require an environmental impact assessment the council should have conducted an appropriate assessment.


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