Flood prevention works in Ballybofey and Stranorlar have suffered a major setback after planning permission was refused by An Bord Pleanala.
Donegal County Council is set to appeal the decision which would prevent essential works along the River Finn.
(Featured image: Flooding along the River Finn in 2015. Northwest Newspix)
Two applications were made last year after Donegal County Council was allocated €160,000 from the Office of Public Works for minor works and for dredging of material at three problematic locations.
The refusal has come as a disappointing blow for planners.
Local Councillor Patrick McGowan said: “I am very disappointed to say the least after all the hard work, time and effort everyone put into getting this application ready. There was very good cooperation with all agencies in the county and I hope for everyone’s sake that this decision can be reversed and or revisited.
“The only thing not mentioned in the report was the possible impact on the possibility of lives being lost or the cost to businesses in the two towns. After all this was minor works and designed to have very little impact on the river itself.”
The first application sought permission for the construction of two storm manholes at the bottom of the flood embankments behind Aldi in Ballybofey. The works would include two mobile pumps for use in the event that the storm waters could not discharge into the river as normal because of high river levels. In addition, permission was sought to clear away any trees, bushes or other vegetation that could weaken the river banks itself.
The second application sought to spot dredge the River Finn behind Jackson’s Hotel, Stranorlar bridge and at Dreenan bridge where a lot of stones and silt had gathered over the years and where it was judged to be adding to the flooding locally.
Cllr Patrick McGowan confirmed that Director of Service John McLaughlin and other senior staff in the council are evaluating the report from the Bord and working on an appeal.
He added that he was concerned about delays to other flood relief projects in the county and of the cost of an appeal.