News Courts

Thursday 18 September 2014

Court orders work to halt on disputed city bridge

Aodhan O'Faolain

Published 05/09/2014 | 02:30

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Christopher O Keeffe secured injunctions preventing Kilkenny County Council from continuing to carry out work at two bridges around the city. Picture: Paddy Cummins/PCPhoto.ie
Christopher O Keeffe secured injunctions preventing Kilkenny County Council from continuing to carry out work at two bridges around the city. Picture: Paddy Cummins/PCPhoto.ie
Gardai block off the road at Green’s Bridge in Kilkenny, where protesters gathered close to the entrance to the site of the new bridge
Gardai block off the road at Green’s Bridge in Kilkenny, where protesters gathered close to the entrance to the site of the new bridge

THE High Court has ordered that construction work must be halted on two bridges, one of which has been the scene of protests in Kilkenny.

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The orders were sought by Kilkenny resident Christopher O'Keeffe (35), inset, who claimed the construction of temporary-access causeways in the River Nore were causing environmental harm to the river.

It has also been claimed the causeways could increase the risk of flooding.

Mr O'Keeffe's claims are based on an expert ecologist's report, which called for construction work to be "urgently restrained" or greater damage would be caused to the Nore's aquatic ecology.

He further claimed the causeways breached a condition set by An Bord Pleanala when it gave Kilkenny County Council permission to build the bridges.

Ms Justice Marie Baker said the case involved matters that were "most serious". She made temporary interim injunctions requiring work to be halted at the Green's Bridge site and a footbridge 1.3kmaway.

Green's Bridge has been the scene of protests against the new bridge, 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 has said the bridge is necessary for the economic development of the city. Barrister Niall Handy Bl for Mr O'Keeffe of Greenfields, James Park, Freshford, Kilkenny, said "truckloads of limestone rocks were 'dumped'" in the river to form the causeways.

Counsel said the expert report stated that the works were causing "significant harm to the water quality", which has created "a serious risk to protected species".

The judge said she accepted that the council had denied any wrongdoing. The injunction was granted on an ex-parte basis, where only one side was represented in court. The matter was adjourned until Wednesday.

Irish Independent

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