A High Court challenge has been brought by the Friends of the Irish Environment Group (FIE) against a decision by Galway County Council authorising emergency flood relief works in Connemara.
In an action that may have wider implications for local government, the group claims the works, were given the go ahead by the Council to proceed under the 1949 Local Authorities Act, are in breach of EU laws designed to protect the environment.
FIE claims the permission granted for the works cannot under EU law be permitted under the 1949 Act and permission should have been sought under the 2000 Planning and Development Act.
The proceedings against Galway Co Council as well as Ireland and the Attorney General, relate to works in and around Kylemore Bridge over the Dawros or Kylemore River in North Connemara.
The bridge is close to the well-known landmark Kylemore Abbey.
The river is one of just a few remaining habitats in Ireland where the rare freshwater pearl mussels, which it is claimed are on the brink of extinction, can be found.
The council has authorised itself to carry out works, including dredging the river, on what is locally known as the Iron Bridge, aimed at preventing flooding.
It is claimed that the works may impact on mussels and salmon populations in the river.
Both species require pristine water to survive and thrive, it is claimed.
FIE claims that the council has authorised flood relief works under the 1949 Act that are likely to have a significant effect on the environment and at the very least require to be screened for the purposes of complying with the EU directive on Environmental Impact Assessments.
The council it is claimed did not carry out any environmental assessments prior to the commencement of works, which FIE claims amounts to a breach of European Law.
In its action FIE seeks several reliefs including an order quashing the council's decision to authorise works at the N59 Kylemore Bridge, in Connemara, and a temporary stay on those works.
It wants a declaration that permission for the proposed works should be sought under the 2000 Planning and Development Act.
It also seeks declarations including that sections of the 1949 Act are invalid and constitute a mis-transposition of EU Directives on Habitats and Environmental Impact Assessments.
FIE further seeks declarations that the State respondents have failed to properly transpose those directives.
The matter was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Thursday. The judge adjourned the action to a date in December.