I will raise a point of order before I speak to this. I will place on the record my very strong objection to the removal of three of the six minutes allocated to me for this vitally important debate, which was scheduled to be taken on 1 June. As I tried to facilitate the Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy O'Donovan, in being present for the debate, my opportunity to put the case forward on behalf of the local community has been significantly curtailed. I want the record to show that.
I am seeking the establishment of a co-ordinated cross-government, cross-departmental and cross-agency task force as a matter of urgency to address emergency climate adaptation measures to protect homes. The first item on the agenda of this new task force should be the authorisation of flood alleviation works at Lough Funshinagh in County Roscommon as a case study. The reason the Lough Funshinagh works should be used as a case study is that the legal barriers which have been highlighted through two court injunctions have very serious implications for many communities throughout this country. These are communities that will sadly, over the coming years, find themselves in a similar situation to that of the community in Ballagh, where its very survival is threatened by our changing climate.
It is questionable whether Lough Funshinagh should have been designated as a turlough under the EU habitats directive. What is in no doubt today, however, is that the lake is not being principally filled by subterranean waters, a key requirement in defining a turlough, and is instead being exclusively filled by surface waters from rainfall, which is falling far more intensively, leading to an accumulation in Lough Funshinagh far quicker than has been the case historically. Therefore, this task force must consider how the EU habitats designation can be repealed.
These legal challenges have also brought into serious question the transposition of EU law and its implications for actions by a council to carry out emergency works under the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Local Authority (Works) Act 1949 to protect families and homes. The task force must set out how EU environmental laws are expressed in our national laws, and draft amendments to the present Acts of the Oireachtas to allow county councils to take emergency actions to save homes from being permanently flooded.
The work programme of this task force is clearly set out in a letter sent to the Minister of State, Deputy O'Donovan, dated 19 May, by the cathaoirleach and chief executive of Roscommon County Council with five very clear asks. We need action on these now, not just for the families in County Roscommon but for other families who will face similar climate-related crises in the years to come.