The Save Our Bride Otters (SOBO) group is seeking a Judicial Review of the decision by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to grant the Office of Public Works (OPW) permission to proceed with the Blackpool Flood Relief Scheme.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Save Our Bride Otters lodged a request to have a Judicial Review of this decision in the High Court earlier this week and a hearing to see if this Judicial Review has merit is scheduled for June 23.
SOBO says that it and its lawyers expect this hearing to be a formality, and that the Judicial Review will be granted leave.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath announced his consent to proceed with the River Bride Flood Relief Scheme at Blackpool last March.
The Government said that the €20 million scheme will see flow-improvement measures and direct flood defences for the River Bride, and roughly a 350m stretch of the river is to be placed into a culvert.
It said that approximately 293 properties including 206 residential and 87 commercial properties will be protected by the scheme, which will provide the standard protection against a flood event with a 1% probability of occurring in any given year.
The OPW has said that the development of the scheme has been informed by extensive consultation with key stakeholders, and where possible, it incorporates environmental mitigation measures and compensation measures.
However, SOBO has expressed concerns about the scheme.
The group said that their Judicial Review is based “on multiple and substantial legal grounds” on a wide range of issues, including what it described as “failure to safeguard existing habitats for a variety of species, including otters, as required by a variety of EU directives.”
Commenting on the latest development, spokesperson for Save Our Bride Otters, Chris Moody, said: “The approach taken by the OPW towards the Blackpool Flood Relief Scheme has been flawed from the start, we have no choice but to challenge this decision by way of Judicial Review. This scheme is unnecessarily expensive, extremely destructive, and attempts to steamroll over a number of protections enshrined in both EU and national law.
“We are extremely grateful to all who have helped us to get this far by supporting our fundraising campaign, which has enabled us to seek to lodge this very substantial Judicial Review. We will be continuing to fundraise for the coming 9-12 months, until the case gets to full hearing.”