Public opposition to Dump in Donegal Gaeltacht
Public Outrage at Minabpoll Landfill Proposal
There is public outrage at Donegal County Council's proposal to build a superdump in the middle of the county at Minabpol townland, a rural area adjacent to Meeniroy Hill and only 11 kms from Glenveigh National Park.
If you've ever driven from Belfast, Derry or Letterkenny to South Donegal (or vice versa) you will no doubt remember a very steep hill 10kms from Letterkenny at the top of which the majestic Bluestacks can be seen across the horizon.
This is where Donegal County Council want to put a superdump, in one of the most scenic and elevated spots in the County and while, sparsely populated, the site is also in the Gaeltacht.
Locals fear environmental pollution; the loss of tourism revenue and devaluation of their land and homes.
The fact that the site is situated a 1000 ft above sea level, the Gartan water supply and that tribituaries of the Finn and Lennan Rivers run through the site makes the suggestion ludicruous.
At a meeting in Fintown, one member of the public compared the proposition to a Monty Python sketch. 'It's like an Irish joke. Why would you choose a place with 2000-3000mm of rainfall per annum to situate a dump - never mind the high winds? It's ridiculous.'
The proposed landfill dump would be capable of taking up to 80,000 tonnes of rubbish per year, according to Donegal County Council's own Environmental Impact Study (EIS) which infers that the site would be the dump for the whole County.
Waste is big money and one of the lessor known aspects of the Good Friday Agreement is cross-border waste management. At present Tyrone's landfill is in Fermanagh and County Derry needs more Landfill. Locals fear Minabpoll becoming the dump for the North West.
This coupled with light pollution; the buring off of methane and carbon monoxide; the disruption to bird and wildlife, including the Golden Eagle, buzzards and plover, otters, Irish hares and wild deer and the pollution to local sheep and turf farms, makes the propositon a fearful one.
Donegal Council has submitted their Environmental Impact Study to the Planning Board and locals have put their objections in writing to the same authority.
One local asked Donegal planners if the proposed dump was so clean why couldn't it be positioned in the vacant 14 acre lot adjacent to the Council's offices in Letterkenny - after all Letterkenny is where the majority of the polluters are?'
The officials answered that it wasn't suitable as it was prime real estate.
This week we learned that the 'prime real estate' adjacent the council's offices in Letterkenny is earmarked for the 'Donegal Discovery Centre Theme park', costing 15 million Euro and supported by Failte Ireland, formerly Bord Failte and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
Do you get the picture? Donegal County Council are willing to destroy a part of the real landscape in Donegal, at a cost of 3 million Euro and countless millions in future tourism revenue, while developing a pretend Donegal at a cost of 7 million Euro to the Irish taxpayer. The mind boggles.
If Failte Ireland were so concerned with tourism figures for Donegal (only 3% of the 7 million visitors to Ireland in 2003 came to Donegal) they could use the 7 million they plan to put into the Donegal theme park to fund recycling and environmental awareness programmes in the North West.
The balance of 8 million Euro for the Donegal Theme park has already been secured by Letterkenny Town Council, a private developer from Dublin, and Merlin Entertainment, a English based company which will operate the theme park.
One wonders how much of the history of Donegal will be related in the theme park? Will it tell the story of the Battle of Scarfollius in 1608 when the Donegal chieftains were defeated by the Engish and when 2000 Ulstermen were taken to Minabpol to be executed by hanging.
Is this what we've come to? Burying our ancestors under half a millon tonnes of rubbish?
Somehow the residents around Minabpol don't think that this aspect of Donegal's history will be included in the theme park.