Sir, - Does nobody care any more what happens to the lovely beaches at Mountcharles and Drumbeg Inver? We, in the action committee for Inver Beach and Warren, have been campaigning for the past 10 years to have these dunes restored and measures taken to prevent further erosion. Now, sadly, the dunes are almost gone at Mountcharles and the situation at Drumbeg is nearly as bad.
In both cases, intensive cattle - farming has caused the most obvious damage. At Drumbeg, so much of the dunes have been eroded that a concrete "pill box", which was built in the Warren during the second World War now 30 yards from the dunes sitting on a shingle bed where there was once a sandy beach.
Over the years, we have applied for assistance to almost every authority in the country and beyond, including the European Union, the Department of the Marine, the Department of the Environment, Bord Failte, Donegal County Council and An Taisce. We have also sought support from The Green Party and the Progressive Democrats all without success.
In 1989, the Action Committee commissioned a scientific report from Ralph Sheppard BA MSc on "The Ecology of the Dune System and the Impact of the Present Agricultural Activities on Inver Sand Dunes". Copies of this, damning survey were forwarded to the authorities in Dublin and Brussels, again with no positive response.
This campaign has cost a lot of money over the years, with no possibility of financial gain for the action committee members. All we want is the enjoyment of our beachers and sand dunes that our forefathers had.
What do the local hotels, restaurants and B & B operators tell visitors when they inquire about beaches in the vicinity? Do they tell them there are two beaches a few miles dawn the road that are fine, if you can stand the smell of silage and slurry?
The tragedy of the whole sad saga is that help is now available if a concerted effort were made to save the beaches and dunes. At Dogs Bay, Co Galway, which suffered similar damage from cattle and erosion, £100,000 has been made available to Galway County Council by the EU for conservation measures. A trench has been dug along the high water mark in which a "fence" of the tops of bushes has been planted to trap and hold the blowing sand and Marrem grass is being brought from 40 miles away in Co Mayo for re planting. County Council Engineer, Michael Dooley, is hopeful that the efforts there will be successful but it painstaking work and another grant is anticipated for next year.
We understand about the rights to private property. But what about the rights of all people to enjoy natural amenities such as our beaches and dune systems? Surely it must be possible for both "rights" to co exist! According to the National Coastline Study of 1972, Donegal had 26 per cent of the Irish total of sandy beach. This is a valuable and irreplaceable asset which should be guarded - not squandered.
Mr Sheppard, in his survey for our action committee, argued that even small beaches and dune systems like Mountcharles and Drumbeg should be seen as part of a fragile network, needing careful management. This will happen only if there is sufficient public interest to provoke action by the authorities and the owners of endangered dune systems. They can be restored to their previous glory - but only if we care enough to make it happen. - Yours, etc.,
Action Committee for Inver
Beach and Warren,