An Bord Pleanála has overturned a grant of permission for construction of an ocean wall at Donald Trump’s golf club resort at Doonbeg in Co Clare.
The Board said it was not satisfied the proposed development would not adversely affect the integrity of the Carrowmore Dunes Special Area of Conservation.
The news comes as it emerged the resort is the latest to fall victim to the Covid 19 pandemic and will close its doors until early next month.
During the Summer and Winter season, the resort is the largest employer in west Clare and General Manager at the resort, Joe Russell confirmed on Wednesday that the resort is closed until April 3rd.
Mr Russell stated that a review is ongoing and similar to all other businesses.
He stated: “Safety of all is the greatest concern.”
Mr Russell stated that the decision to close temporarily was made following a recommendation from all agencies and from the Irish Hotels’ Federation (IHF) which he said “has been terrific”.
Mr Russell stated that the Trump Organisation in the United States has been “very supportive”.
The controversial wall plan at the resort is for a 38,000-tonne rock barrier to protect three holes and other coastal erosion management works at Carrowmore Dunes, White Strand, Doughmore Bay, Doonbeg and Trump International Golf Links and Hotel, Doonbeg.
The proposal included provision of two new protection structures at the dunes and involved excavation of existing
sand, the use of sheet piling backstops with soil nailing, geotextile underlay, armourstone protection to the sheet piles, with sand and cobbles on the beach being used to form a dune profile over a distance of 609 metres approximately at the southern end of Doughmore Bay, adjacent to and west of the hotel.
The works were planned to be over a distance of 256 metres approximately at the northern end of Doughmore Bay, west of the golf course.
Clare County Council had in 2018 granted permission for the development but its decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by several parties, including Friends of the Irish Environment and environmentalist Peter Sweetman.
Mr Sweetman also secured leave for a High Court judicial review of the Council's decision which proceedings were put on hold pending the outcome of the ABP appeal.
In a decision published on March 12th last, the Board refused permission.
The Board said it was not satisfied the proposed development would not result in adverse effects on the physical structure, functionality and sediment supply of dune habitat within the Carrowmore Dunes Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
It noted the SAC has a stated conservation objective to restore the favourable conservation condition of the dune habitat, with a target to maintain the natural circulation of sediment and organic matter, without any physical obstructions.
It said the qualifying interests for the SAC include shifting dunes along the shoreline with white dunes and fixed coastal dunes with herbaceous vegetation, grey dunes.
As the Board is not satisfied "beyond reasonable scientific doubt" that the proposed development would not adversely affect the integrity of the Carrowmore Dunes SAC, it is "precluded from granting permission"", it stated.
The Board added it disagreed with a planning inspector's view the proposed development should also be refused on grounds it would have a long term significant negative impact on the landscape and visual quality in the area, on the amenity value of White Strand beach and would be contrary to various objectives of the Clare County Development Plan 2017-2023.
Welcoming the Board's decision, Mr Sweetman said: "It shows how ridiculous the council's decision was. Permission should never have been granted in the first place."
The outcome of the ABP appeal is likely to have implications for Mr Sweetman's judicial review proceedings against Clare County Council over the latter's permission decision.
Trump International Golf Links Ireland Enterprises Ltd, An Bord Pleanála and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are notice parties to those proceedings.
In his action, Mr Sweetman from Rossport, Ballina, Co Mayo, sought to overturn the council's permission on grounds of alleged failure to carry out or record any or any proper environmental impact assessment or any proper appropriate assessment.
- Additional reporting by Gordon Deegan