The bill is now €5m for the cost to Donegal Council of all the work that has gone into siting the Sewage Treatment Plant at Carnagarve. Recently Donegal Council sent out Property Tax letters to 30,000 households. That means that Carnagarve has cost each Donegal household an average of €167 each. That’s more than the Council are going to get in from the Property Tax this year.


Now it looks as if all that money has been wasted. In 23 years no one asked the question “Who owns the seabed in Lough Foyle that the Council was planning to build a pipeline into the lough 300 metres long. The answer, it seems, as it has been all along, is that the seabed is owned by the Crown Estates and is British territory and they are now saying that their permission was never sought and it won’t be given.

Crown estates makes money from getting income from the aquaculture businesses that could be damaged by treated sewage being pumped into the lough and beds dug up. They say that they are now considering taking legal action against Donegal Council. Donegal Council took out a compulsory purchase order in 2011 and were going to buy the land and sea bed from the Irish Ministry of Agriculture – who didn’t own it.

Crown Estates

Even the dogs in the streets in Moville knew that the Crown Estates owned the land up to the high water mark. They may not have liked it but they knew it. So, how come, in 23 years that the Council never found out who actually owned the land for the project that they were spending millions on and asked them if they could rent or buy it? How come they tried to buy it from the Irish Ministry of Agriculture? Did no one there not check to see if they actually owned it?

It is now revealed for the first time that the cross-border Loughs Agency pays and collects rent for he use of the Lough and pays it to the Crown Estate. So, how come Donegal Council didn’t know who owned it? How come they spent €5m of taxpayers money that could have been spent on the people of Donegal, making plans to build a sewage treatment plant on land they didn’t own.


It’s not credible to believe that they didn’t know that the Crown Estates actually owned the land and not the Ministry of Agriculture. Enda Craig and the Carnagarve Group would certainly have mentioned it to them at least once in the last 23 years.

It’s ridiculous that this has dragged on for so long and cost so much money – now looking like it is wasted. Indeed they may now have the legal fees of the Crown Estates to pay as well. The people of Moville and Greencastle will be thinking of this when their Property Tax demands come through the doors.

Before this fiasco ends there must be one more enquiry and that should be to find how so much money was spent on a doomed project and who was responsible for it.