MYSTERY surrounds a process 18 months ago in which Donegal County Council said it was making a compulsory purchase of foreshore land and seabed in Lough Foyle for a sewage outflow pipe.
That’s because the Department of Agriculture – named as the owners of the land in a newspaper advertisement – has confirmed that it was never contacted by the council.
All the other landowners in the Carnagrave area between Moville and Greencastle DID receive notices from the council.
However the Department says it “can find no records whatsoever” of any correspondence from the council.
As the land is actually owned by the Crown Estate Commission – the British Government’s landlords – campaigners believe the council legal notice was wrong.
The Campaign for a Clean Estuary group in the area says it received the latest information in an official letter from the Department of Agriculture.
Spokesman Enda Craig told Donegal Daily: “I remember seeing the advertisement in the Derry Journal newspaper in October 2011. It was a legal notice naming all the landowners in the area whose land was going to be purchased as part of the sewage treatment scheme.
“We still have a copy of it, and we were surprised because we didn’t believe the Department owned the foreshore. People around here have known for years that the British claimed the seabed and the foreshore.
“So we wrote to the Department and to our surprise we were told that no CPO (compulsory purchase order) had never been issued to them.
“There were no letters, no emails, nothing.”
Mr Craig added: “In 1990 Donegal councillors voted to build a treatment plant and outflow pipe into the Atlantic ocean. That was changed in 1995 to put the pipe into the delicate waters of the Foyle estuary. No explanation was ever given to our satisfaction.
“We now believe that the Crown Estate is opposing the council’s plans and it would be better for everyone and better for the environment if this proposal went back to its original plans.”
Yesterday the Crown Estate said it was in talks with the British and Irish governments over its ownership of both Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough.
Sources in the commission and in the Loughs Agency have confirmed that rents are paid on all of the seabed aquaculture activities.