New M28 may have ‘devastating’ impact on golf course

The development of a €180m motorway could have a “devastating” impact on Cork’s oldest 18-hole golf course unless major mitigation measures are put in place.

Douglas Golf Club members have told an An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the proposed Cork-Ringaskiddy motorway (M28) that a two-lane slip road to be built as part of it will have a major impact on the club.

Conor O’Brien, the club’s general manager, said a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) had been lodged for 3.5 acres of land on its southern boundary for the a slip road.

He said if mitigation measures were not put in place, it would make “one-third of the club’s grounds realistically unsuitable for the playing of golf.”

Mr O’Brien described the county council’s current mitigation measures as “completely inadequate” and that members were concerned the slip road would be so close to the course that a golf ball could easily fly onto it, resulting in serious accidents.

Mr O’Brien also raised financial concerns for the club during the two-year construction phase.

“It will be next to impossible for the club to attract new members during this period. The club may have to allow appropriate reductions from annual subscriptions and will also suffer substantial loss of green fees. All of this, in turn, will result in a loss of bar and restaurant income,” he said.

In a report, internationally renowned course designer Jeff Howes said there was currently no danger of golf balls landing on adjoining roads from Douglas Golf Club.

“Having examined the proposals, it is my opinion that substantial measures need to be put in place to preserve the ability to play and enjoy golf in this area if the proposed M28 scheme proceeds,” he said.

Mr Howes said the entire fourth hole and the fifth tee would have to be relocated and maintained fencing proposed in the area by the county council was inadequate and would leave the club open to trespassing.

He added extensive planting of mature trees was also needed to screen the road and reduce traffic noise.

Council representatives said An Bord Pleanála could make its own recommendations on the extent of mitigation measures which were needed at the golf club. RPS consultants, on behalf of the applicants, outlined why the route has been altered since the original plan was formulated in 2008. One contentious segment in the new plan involves routing the road directly through Ringaskiddy village, rather than skirting around it.

The consultants said the proposed new route through Ringaskiddy involves the least land-take and avoids the need to demolish any dwellings and ‘represents better value for money’ than the first one proposed nine years ago.

The oral hearing is likely to conclude today. An Bord Pleanála expects to make its decision on December 21.

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