THE OWNERS of a West Limerick aluminium company “caused havoc” to the local environment when they illegally changed the course of a river in order to gain access to a piece of land, a court has heard.
The owners of Costello Aluminium, of Kilfergus, Glin, were ordered to restore the course of the River Corbry, which they diverted without permission in late 2008/early 2009 at a special sitting of Limerick Circuit Court last Friday.
The actions of the company and its owner, John Costello, caused serious ecological damage and have led to frequent flooding along the river and at their own premises, the court was told.
Peter Clein, BL, prosecuting on behalf of Limerick County Council told Judge Carroll Moran that Costello Aluminium sought to alter the course of the Corbry in order to bring a piece of land on the opposite bank “into the larger industrial site” of their premises.
Mr Clein said that physically changing the river “caused havoc” with local fish life and led to a “significant problem” with flooding on nearby banks and at Costello Aluminium itself.
The court heard that Judge James O’Donoghue made an order directing the company to restore the river to its original path on May 27 2009.
On October 19 2009 John Costello gave an undertaking in court that he would commit to hiring an environmental scientist as part of the project, and would liaise with Limerick County Council and the Inland Fisheries Board.
However, the restoration of the river has not taken place to date as Costello Aluminium had submitted an application for planning retention.
Mr Cleain said that the council were now seeking compliance with the original court order as there is “no possibility” of the retention application being successful.
“Clearly the primary concern of the county council is to have the river re-directed to its previous course”, Mr Clein said.
The court heard that for the river to be changed back it will require “stabilising works”, such as putting down boulders, removing debris and the straightening of river banks upstream.
Following a brief discussion between legal representatives of both sides, Mr Clein told the court that an agreement had been reached Mr Costello to restore the river to its former route by April 30 2012.
He is also to liaise with the council and the fisheries board and present a schedule of works by September 15.
Mr Costello took to the witness box and gave a sworn undertaking that he will comply with the court’s order. When asked by Mr Clein if he will return the river to its natural state, he replied “I will definitely do that”.
The case was adjourned until October 5.