After the revelation that the Crown Estates own the seabed of Lough Foyle and that Donegal Council in 23 years have never asked their permission to run a 300 metre long pipe into that sea bed, Enda Craig and the Carnagarve Group are demanding answers from the Council.

Clean Estuary

They say “The Campaign for a Clean Estuary are calling on our local representatives, TDs and Co Councillors to establish for once and for all, has Donegal County Council the right to discharge sewerage through a pipe onto the sea bed of Lough Foyle”.

That’s a pretty good question after an article published yesterday in the Irish Independent showed that proprietary rights belonged to Crown Estates the landlord of Queen Elizabeth and that legally these are British waters. No planning application has ever been received by them to build the pipeline in their waters.

A source told the newspaper “Donegal County Council would have no rights to access the foreshore and seabed without the permission of the Crown Estate,”.

You would have thought that in 23 years Donegal Council would have looked into this themselves.

Wasted Money

Mr Enda Craig Chairman of the Campaign for a Clean Estuary said “that this calls into question how Donegal County Council can continue to plough on with the proposed scheme, to waste more of taxpayers money in addition to the £5 million spent, when the fundamental premise of ownership is null and void. We in the CFCE think that there are further unanswered questions when it comes to the way Donegal Co Council has handled the application”.

Now, here is a very serious question that needs answering.

Said Enda, “In October 2011, the council published a compulsory purchase order, listing the pieces of land it was taking over. These included one 0.28-hectare parcel on the foreshore, which was listed as being owned by the Minister for Agriculture ( DAFF) . However, the land is actually the property of the Crown Estate.

We Know Nothing

“Under the freedom of information Act we in the CFCE have established that it fact Donegal Co Council have no application before the DAFF and the Department in Dublin know nothing about it. We want to know what is going on here ? Is this a bluff presented to us in the local community, a bluff presented to our local councillors, an Bord Pleanala and even more incredulously to the High Court in Dublin?”


Did they really not tell the DAFF that they were buying land from them? What would the DAFF have told them if they did?

Rent Payers

Said Enda “We further know that the Loughs Agency collects rent for the sea bed rights in relation to aquaculture on Lough Foyle and pass them on to the Crown Estates. This includes a contribution from the Department of Agriculture in Dublin. Why pay if you don’t believe you are liable?.”

That’s astonishing. The Department of Agriculture from whom the Council are supposed to be purchasing the land are effectively admitting that the Crown Estates own the land as they pay them for the use of it. It’s like someone trying to sell a house that they only rent. But, as Enda said, the department have no knowledge of any application. So what are the council up to? It’s all very strange.

Property Tax

The Council have already spent €5m on this scheme, more than they will take in in Property Tax this year but it could get worse as the Independent source said “The Crown Estate is very concerned at the council’s proposals and may well consider legal action to stop it in this case.”

The Council may now be forced to throw good money after bad in defending themselves in a legal case. The Council must have done a lot of testing and poking around without permission from the Crown Estates.

Response Wanted

Enda and his group are demanding “What response is Donegal Co Council going to make to this? Enough is enough, I am asking for our local representatives to stand up for the people, against further wastage of public monies and call into question where this is all going. I believe they have a strong duty in this regard, in these straightened times”.

If this is all true, and it does seem to be, despite the story breaking on April 1st, then it is truly astonishing that for 23 years the Council has spent €5m of public money trying to buy land to set up a sewage treatment plant from someone who doesn’t own it and indeed pays rent for it, without ever contacting the owner (or indeed the people renting it if what Enda says is true).

I’m still wondering if we have been hit by an April Fool’s Day prank.