Pier will damage ‘crown jewel’ of waves, say surfers

Surfers claimed yesterday that Clare County Council did not do enough to show its planned €8m Doolin pier will not have a negative impact on “the jewel in the crown” of Irish surfing.

At a Bord Pleanála oral hearing in Ennistymon, Tom Doidge Harrison of the Irish Surfing Association and West Coast Surf Club said members did not have confidence that the council’s wave modelling data represents what will really happen to the Crab Island wave when the pier is in place.

At present, 70,000 to 80,000 ferry passengers a year use the existing Doolin pier. However, it cannot be accessed at low tide and, last year, lost 30 to 40 days’ business to bad weather.

Paddy Crowe, manager of island co-op Comhar Caomhán Inis Oírr, told the hearing if the pier did not proceed as planned “we see ourselves on the island as being under threat”.

Doolin-based ferry company director Bill O’Brien was applauded by those in the public gallery after he warned if planning was not granted “you’re going to plunge back the economy of Doolin and Inis Oirr 40 years”. “It is very important that the people and culture survive on Inis Oirr and if this facility is not put in place, it will be a very backward step,” he said.

On behalf of the council, maritime civil engineer Pat Parle told the hearing: “The analysis shows that, for the majority of the surf situations, the impacts are likely to be small.”

A decision is due to be made by Bord Pleanála early next year.

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