Community and public representatives who met in Serenity House Moville to discuss a response to Irish Water's controversial Moville Sewerage Scheme.

Irish Water’s controversial Moville Sewerage Scheme could spark an international diplomatic incident according to the Inishowen environmental group, Campaign For a Clean Estuary (CFCE).

The revelation followed a meeting  between CFCE and the peninsula’s public representatives, which discussed the Moville Sewerage Scheme’s proposed Carnagarve siting.

According to CFCE chairperson, Enda Craig, Irish Water has failed to take the question over the ownership of the Lough Foyle seabed into account anywhere in its proposal.

Mr Craig said: “Following Thursday night’s meeting, CFCE is now seeking a high-level meeting with Irish Water, as a matter of urgency.

“We are taking this action in the wake of the recent information evening in the Foyle Hotel, at which representatives of Irish Water were present but did not appear to understand the previous history of the Moville – Greencastle Scheme, which was eventually abandoned by Donegal County Council, or the community’s concerns regarding effluent discharge to Lough Foyle, within the confines of the Estuary.

“At Thursday night’s meeting, which took place in Serenity House in Moville, there was an air of disbelief that Irish Water would try to reinstate the main elements of the discredited two previous schemes, said Mr Craig.

The Inishowen environmental activist said CFCE had encouraged Irish Water to come to Moville in a “spirit of openness, co-operation and transparency.”

Mr Craig said: “Knowing that Irish Water was coming to town with plans for a new sewerage scheme, CFCE encouraged them to come in a spirit of openness, co-operation and transparency. We let it be known that we would respond in kind to ensure a speedy resolution to the sewerage problem.

“Consider our disappointment when we found out that Irish Water, in publishing their invitation to an information meeting, did not include any of the relevant details of their proposal, including plant site or effluent discharge location, in order to allow the community to study the same and to assemble pertinent questions for the engineers to answer.

“Nothing about this latest re-packaging of an old flawed and rejected plan will serve any part of our local community, be it Moville, Greencastle or anywhere in between.

“An expert hydrodynamic plan, which Irish Water are familiar with, illustrates how sewage discharged at the existing proposed outfall site would hug the coast from Redcastle to Kinnego, said Mr Craig.

Mr Craig drew attention to the fact Irish Water had published five pages of “detailed” plans when it advertised the proposed Rathmullan Sewerage Scheme.

He said: “The situation in Moville compares badly with the way Irish Water advertised in Rathmullan for a similar situation. In that instance it included five pages of detailed plans for their scheme.

“When CFCE enquired of the Irish Water team why this happened, we did not get any acceptable explanation. It also transpired that this proposed plan is a temporary measure, which will need expanding after 10 years. It does not take into account the needs of numerous estates in Moville, and does not take in Greencastle at all.

“This plan is not acceptable. It is not a permanent solution, it does not deal with the entire sewage problem and it poses a serious risk to the environment upon which we depend for tourism.

“In a determined attempt not to get into a toe to toe slogging match with Irish Water, we called a meeting to identify an acceptable solution to what could turn into another impasse should this attitude persist on the road ahead. To that end we have decided, in conjunction with our public representatives, to request a meeting at the highest level with Irish Water management to be afforded the opportunity to present our case and to listen to the system knowledge we have built during our efforts to secure an appropriate sewage treatment system for our community,” said Mr Craig.

CFCE is determined to “safeguard and protect” the Moville Shore Walk and Shoreline, according to CFCE.

Enda Craig added: “The Moville Shore Walk and Shoreline between Moville and Greencastle, our most valuable asset, is all important.

“Lough Foyle needs to be treated as a special case, given the trans-boundary nature of Lough Foyle and Britain’s exit from the EU.

“We cannot just have a stop-gap quick fix here. We urge a rethink on the mission statement for the scheme and a willingness to engage with the community who have much to contribute to delivering a successful outcome for all in this project,” said Mr Craig.

Speaking to the Inish Times following the meeting in Serenity House, Donegal Councillor Albert Doherty (Sinn Féin) expressed “deep anger and disappointment” at the unacceptable Irish Water approach to the Moville Sewerage proposals presented at the information evening.

Cllr Doherty said: “The non sharing prior to the meeting of both relevant details of the proposed project and the relevant mapping was an 'own goal' for Irish Water.

“What have Irish Water to fear from experience, previous insightful research, local knowledge and an interest and desire to preserve and protect the entire Foyle Estuary, I wonder?

“On the other hand, Irish Water has a duty to act with the local population and to ensure the present pollution issues affecting the Bredagh River and the Foyle are addressed.

“Following the meeting in meeting in Serenity House, the Inishowen Councillors have undertaken a cross-party effort to secure, as early as possible, a meeting with the senior person in Irish Water responsible for the management and delivery of the Moville Sewerage project.

“Openness, cooperation, honest engagements  by Irish Water and a positive constructive  approach by all interested parties is required now to ensure progress with this necessitous project," Cllr Doherty concluded.

Senator Padraig Mc Lochlainn (Sinn Féin) also raised the Moville Sewerage Scheme at a cross-party meeting with Irish Water on Monday past.

Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn voiced the significant concerns relating to the project and requested an urgent meeting between Irish Water’s senior management team and community and public representatives, to discuss the controversial scheme.

Enda Craig conveyed his thanks to thank Serenity House for the use of their meeting room and to the local public representatives, who are well aware of the longstanding history, Councillors Martin Farren (Labour), Albert Doherty (Sinn Féin) and Martin Mc Dermott (Fianna Fáil) for attending in person; Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn (Sinn Féin) for his contribution via Skype. Deputy Charlie Mc Conalogue sent his apologies too,” said Mr Craig.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Now editorial team. Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Sunday please call 074 9112712. Between 5pm and midnight please call or text 086 792 2103. Or you can email [email protected] at any time.