Wednesday 18 April 2012


DONEGAL County Council has spent €5M on a planning dispute which may be blocked by the UK government.

The High Court in Dublin will this week rule on a challenge to the construction of a sewage treatment plant that will pump sewage into Lough Foyle.

The plans actually include a provision to allow raw sewage to be dumped into the estuary during flood warnings.

Now it has been revealed that Britain’s Crown Estate says it owns the whole seabed of Lough Foyle – including on the Donegal side.

And Donegal County Council, which has been battling local residents for 22 years, hasn’t asked permission.

Enda Craig, spokesman for the Campaign for a Clean Estuary, told today that his Judicial Review is listed for hearing in Dublin this week.

“We are extremely confident that the decision of An Bord Pleanála to over-rule a decision by its own staff to reject the latest application involved a major conflict of interest,” said Mr Craig.

“One of the board of An Bord Pleanála who gave the go-head is a former employee with the engineering company employed by Donegal County Council to carry out the scheme. That forms part of the residents’ case against An Bord Pleanála in this court case.”

Residents had to raise thousands of euro to take the legal case.

They want the treatment plant and water waste outflow pipe outside the Foyle estuary. That’s exactly what Donegal County Council decided to do in the mid-1990s, but for no apparent reason abandoned those plans.

However it has emerged that Britain’s Crown Estate may end up scuppering the council’s plans, forcing them to move the plants and works outside the Foyle system once again.

The Crown Estate claims juridiction over the entire seabed of both Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough.

And the council doesn’t have permission to pump sewage into the Foyle from the body.

A meeting of UK and Irish Government officials took place in January to discuss a range of specific environmental and marine issues arising from the current jurisdictional position of Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle.

Quite how Donegal County Council came to spend more than €5M on a sewage plant on which not a single brick has ever been laid is even more astonishing when you read the minutes below of a meeting WAY BACK IN 1990 when councillors voted unanimously to find an outflow outside the Foyle.

The latest scheme alone cost €2M.

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