ONE of the busiest coastguard units in the country yesterday urged Clare County Council to continue “as a matter or urgency” its €6 million pier plan for Doolin.
Last year, the Doolin unit of the Irish coastguard launched boats from the existing pier 85 times.
The revised pier plan before the council is facing opposition from surfers who fear that the pier plan will destroy world-class waves at Doolin.
The council withdrew its previous plan in December in response to surfers’ concerns and has placed the revised pier 25 metres further away from the waves.
Now, in a submission to the council on its pier plan, Officer in Charge of the unit, Mattie Shannon, states that during peak tourist periods, the area around the existing pier is “regularly over-congested with cars, passengers and boats”.
He states: “This, in turn, can make it very difficult for our members to launch our boats in an efficient manner where time is of the essence. We have coped with this difficult situation over the years, but we would really appreciate a less congested area to proceed with our work.”
Mr Shannon added: “We support the revised new pier development by the council as it will make it much safer for commercial craft to use the new pier while Doolin Coastguard will have the space it needs at the existing facility with reduced congestion.”
In a separate submission, backed by 150 signatures from local people, Doolin Tourism and Doolin Community Harbour Co-op have called on the Council to proceed with the plan.
In a joint submission the two bodies state: “We are aware that surfers have made further representations to the Council and are unhappy with the revised pier plans.
They state: “The waves in this area are surfed only at low and medium water levels and, as the proposed pier is more than 450m away from the surf waves at Crab Island and 300m away from the nearest surf areas, Doolin point etc, the proposed pier and breakwater will not create a back wash effect on these surfing waves.”
The Doolin-based organisations state that it is “essential” that the Council proceed with the revised plan.
The organisations state that the pier plan “will provide a safer tourist product which will be of benefit to tourists and the communities of Doolin alike, as well as the whole of Clare and the Aran Islands. This will extend the tourist season for all involved by at least two months”.
They state: “We feel it is vital for the greater good for all of the users at Doolin pier that the Council proceed with the revised plans and bring this development to a successful conclusion as a matter of urgency.”
The organisations state that the “present services at the pier are wholly inadequate and an injection of capital is long overdue to bring facilities to an acceptable level in the interests of health and safety and customer care”.
The organisations state: “The investment of €6m for the new 85-metre pier will create a safer environment for all.”
A planner’s report on the issue is due to go before the March meeting of Clare Council. There is no recourse to An Bord Pleanála for third parties.
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