Expert doubts Burren will feature on Unesco site list

Brendan Dunford: Lengthy and expensive process

A Burren expert has said he does not see the landscape being put forward by the Government to be included on Unesco’s World Heritage Site List “any time soon”.

Brendan Dunford was responding to comments Jimmy Deenihan, the heritage minister, that he believes Unesco would love to have the Burren on its list.

Speaking on a visit to Carron in the Burren last week, Mr Deenihan said: “The inclusion of the Burren would add immeasurably to the credibility of designation. It is a unique landscape.”

The Burren is part of a tentative list drawn up by the Government for inclusion in the prestigious list — the two sites currently on the list are Skellig Michael in Co Kerry and Brú na Bóinne in Co Meath.

A meeting was held at Dublin Castle earlier this month with the relevant stakeholders from all of the sites to advance the process.

The Government has not yet put forward any sites on the ‘tentative list for nomination’.

“World Heritage designation will not be imposed on any community and I have been told that designation for the Burren wouldn’t affect the issue of planning permissions to any great extent,” Mr Deenihan said.

However, Dr Dunford, director of the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme, said: “Being put forward for nomination for World Heritage site designation is a very lengthy and very expensive process and I’m not sure the resources are there to put forward the Burren for nomination.”

He said that, in other countries, the cost of nomination has exceeded €500,000 and that there would be concerns from farmers about possible restrictions from designation.

Dr Dunford said he can not see the Burren being put forward for designation “any time soon”.

During his visit, Mr Deenihan ruled out any further planning applications by the State for visitor facilities at the Mullaghmore site in the Burren National Park.

The site was the scene of one of the longest planning battles in the State’s history resulting in the State demolishing a partly-built visitors’ centre in 2005.

Last year, the Department of the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht lodged plans for a carpark at the site and withdrew the plan last June in the face of opposition from the Burren Action Group.

After withdrawing the plan, the department stated that the planning application needed to be further considered in the context of the wider management of the Burren National Park and present exchequer funding constraints.

However, asked if the department would be lodging any revised plan for the site, Mr Deenihan said: “I can’t see in my time as minister that the project will be revisited.

“The money was there for it, but if you don’t have local support. We’ll abandon the project and that is what has happened.”


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