The orders were sought by local resident Christopher O’Keeffe, 35, who claims the construction of temporary access causeways in the River Nore, done to aid the building of the bridges, are causing environmental harm to the river. It is also claimed the causeways could increase the risk of flooding.
Mr O’Keeffe’s claims are based on an expert ecologist’s report which saysconstruction work had to be “urgently restrained” or greater damage to the Nore’s aquatic ecology would be caused.
He further claims the causeways directly breach a condition of the consent given by An Bord Pleanála when it gave the Kilkenny County Council permission to construct the bridges.
Yesterday, Ms Justice Máire Baker, who said the case involved matters that were “most serious” and “important”, made temporary interim injunctions requiring Kilkenny County Council to stop work at the Greens Bridge site and at the site of a footbridge currently being constructed beneath the Ossory Bridge at Nore Linear Park, Kilkenny. The bridges are 1.3km apart.
Greens Bridge has been the scene of several protests by locals against the construction of a new bridge, which is part of a €10.7m project known as the Kilkenny Central Access Scheme. Protesters believe the project will damage Kilkenny’s medieval heritage. The council says the bridge is necessary for the city’s economic development. At the High Court, barrister Niall Handy, for Mr O’Keeffe of Greenfields, James Park, Freshford, Kilkenny, said his client is opposed to the construction of the new bridge at Greens Bridge.
He said, in particular, Mr O’Keeffe became concerned when work on the causeways near Greens Bridge commenced in July. Counsel said “truckloads of limestone rocks were “dumped” in the river to form the causeways.
Counsel said a report was carried out by consultant ecologist, Ms Evelyn Moorkens. Her report states the works are causing “significant harm to the water quality,” which in turn has created “a serious risk to protected species in the river. Counsel said the River Nore comprised part of the River Barrow and Nore Special Area of Conservation.
Counsel added it was his client’s case the causeways breached the permission obtained by the council when it sought permission from An Bord Pleanála to carry out the works. Counsel said the causeways effectively narrows the river, resulting in the flow of water being quickened, increasing the flood risk.
Ms Justice Baker said she was satisfied to grant an interim injunction halting construction on the bridges. The injunction was granted on an ex-parte basis, where only one side was represented in court. The judge said that in arriving at her decision she was taking note of Ms Moorken’s report.
The matter was adjourned until Wednesday next week.