A High Court action over a controversial Co Roscommon flood relief scheme will not be heard until after Easter.

The Friends of the Irish Environment group have brought proceedings against Roscommon County Council's plans to construction of a 3km pipeline designed to take water from a seasonal lake 12km from Athlone to nearby Lough Ree.

The council says it is carrying out these works to help alleviate severe flooding, which it claims threatens the homes of people living close to Lough Funshinagh, which is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Last month, FIE secured permission to bring judicial review proceedings, which aimed to set aside the council's decision of 14 October 2021, which approved the emergency flood relief scheme under section 152 of the 2001 Local Government Act.

The court also granted a temporary stay on any further works on the scheme from taking place.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons made directions aiming at having the dispute heard when the courts resume following the Easter holidays.

That hearing, in which the council and the State are respondents, is expected to last for four days.

The judge also said - following an undertaking from the council - that the temporary prohibition on any work being carried out on the scheme should continue until the matter returns before the court.

In its pre-trial motion the council wants the stay lifted.

Represented by Neil Steen SC, the council said that work needs to recommence very soon if anything meaningful is to be done on the project this year.

Given the risk to homes of people living near the lake, and the fact that it was accepted that the council has an arguable defence to the claim against it, Mr Steen said that the balance of justice favoured the lifting of the stay.

Over 57% of the construction work on the project has been carried out on the scheme.

While the council wants to recommence construction works on the pipeline, it was prepared not to commence pumping water from Lough Funshinagh until after the matter has been fully resolved by the High Court, Mr Steen added.

Opposing the application, James Devlin SC, instructed by solicitor Eoin Brady SC, for FIE said that the balance of justice favoured keeping the stay in place until the case has been decided.

FIE says that the council's proposed scheme, irrespective of what method it uses to pump large volumes of water from one location to another, will have a significant impact on the lake, which is designated a Priority Habitat.

Counsel said FIE disputes any contention by the council that the lake is not a designated 'turlough', and therefore not protected, because it has not fully drained for over 25 years.

However, after hearing submissions from the parties, the judge decided to adjourn the stay application for a period of two weeks.

This was done to allow the state respondent's time to make submissions on the matter, and to allow the parties consider a recent relevant judgement delivered by Mr Justice David Holland.