This has been going on now for 23 years and still raw sewage is being pumped into Lough Foyle in contradiction of EU rules. This is like something that happens in 3rd world countries and yet it is happening here in Ireland in 2013.


In 1990 Donegal Council voted for a new Sewage Treatment Plant to be built outside the mouth of the Foyle in the Atlantic Estuary. In 1995 it changed its mind and voted for the Sewage Treatment Plant to be built at perhaps Moville’s most popular beach. A pipeline would take the treated sewage out into the Foyle.

The reason for this change of decision was supposed to be cost. However, €5m has now been spent on the project without a blade of grass or an inch of sand being turned. Indeed €278,000 was spent on an expensive enquiry without even asking the lawyers used there at great expense to find out who actually owned the land.

Compulsory Purchase

In October 2011 a legal notice was posted in the Derry Journal informing all landowners in the area that their land was going to be purchased. We all got letters in the River Row. However, one supposed landowner didn’t get one and that was the most important one of the lot – the Department of Agriculture whom the Council claimed owned the land.

However, everyone around here knows that the land is owned by the Crown Estates, the Queen’s landlord, and that the seabed up to the high water line is British Territory. Of course the Irish Government disputes this but not very strongly as its agencies pay for the use of the lough with the money going to the Crown Estates.

Strange Things

There are two things that are very strange here:-

1. Despite posting the notice in the Derry journal and sending out compulsory purchase letters to all the other landlords, the Council did not inform the Ministry of Agriculture whom they claimed owned the land.

2. The Ministry of Agriculture do not even claim they own the seabed in the Foyle and they, like the Loughs agency, pay the Crown Estates for the use of the foreshore. There must have been a reason why the Council did not approach the Ministry of Agriculture like they did with everyone else. Did they know that the seabed was owned by the Crown Estates and was British territory? Did they guess that, as the Crown Estates sell licences to aquaculture businesses in the Foyle that they would not want a pipeline pumping treated sewage into the Foyle to damage those businesses? Did the Council continue to spend taxpayers’ money with this knowledge?

Laughing Stock

With news of this being published in the Irish Independent and now the Belfast Telegraph and with Enda Craig appearing on the BBC Radio Foyle his morning, the Council is in danger of being seen as a laughing stock.

Imagine spending €5m of the taxpayers money over 23 years (more than they will take in this year from the Property Tax) and never even asking the owners of the land if they could shove a pipeline into it and pump treated sewage into it. If the Crown Estates now take the legal action against the Council that they are considering then that really will show Donegal and its Council off in a very bad light nationally and maybe internationally.

Action Now

We could be the laughing-stock of the world. The Council needs to take action now and reverse that vote of 1995 and vote to place the Sewage Treatment Plant where it was originally intended – in the Atlantic estuary. We can’t go on dumping untreated sewage into the Lough Foyle as happens now like some 3rd world country.

Action is needed now and the first thing that needs doing is to have another vote by the Council. It can’t happen too soon.

And the next thing that needs to happen is for an enquiry to take place into how this fiasco happened and how so much of taxpayers’ money was wasted.