Trump golf course wall battle continues

US president Donald Trump is facing a further battle in a long-running row with environmentalists over controversial plans to build sea defences to protect his 18-hole golf course in west Clare.

An appeal has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála against a recent decision by Clare Co Council to grant planning permission for the construction of two walls to protect the links course at Doonbeg from coastal erosion. The appeal is expected to put the project on hold for at least another six months.

Last month, the council approved a scaled-down version of plans by Trump International Golf Links and Hotel at Doonbeg to build a 2.8km wall at the Carrowmore Dunes in Doughmore Bay which had been withdrawn in 2016.

The current project involves the development of two coastal protection structures, measuring 626m and 256m, which will extend 12 metres seawards from the base of the dunes and require the use of 50,000 tonnes of material.

The council ruled the construction of the sea defences would not have any significant effect on any nature conservation site and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety. Council planners also found the proposed wall would not have a significant impact on the dune ecosystem.

In granting planning permission, however, they imposed a number of conditions, including that the public would continue to have access to a right of way to the beach at Doonbeg.

TIGL Ireland Enterprises, the company which operates the resort, is also required to pay a development contribution of €240,000 to the local authority.

The appeal to An Bord Pleanála has been made by Peter Sweetman, a well-known environmental campaigner, who claims Clare County Council’s decision to approve the project is “fundamentally flawed in law”. He claims that, under EU case law, planners are required when carrying out an assessment to show no reasonable scientific doubt remains as to the absence of negative effects of a proposed development on designated nature and conservation sites.

He pointed out the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht had expressed concern about the lack of scientific data provided by TIGL about the impact of the planned sea defences on protected areas.

“It is my submission that An Bord Pleanála is precluded in law from granting permission for this development,” said Mr Sweetman.

Several further appeals are expected before the deadline for making objections to An Bord Pleanála closes in just under two weeks.

Consultants acting for Mr Trump — who resigned as a director of TIGL in January 2017 — warned during the original planning application that the resort could face closure if permission was not granted for the coastal protection measures.

The Doonbeg resort was bought by the billionaire in 2014 for what was considered a bargain price of €15m.

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