Business Irish

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Donald Trump: Billionaire's battered Doonbeg Lodge set to return to former glory

Allison Bray

Published 22/04/2014 | 02:30

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The 18th green at Doonbeg Golf Club in County Clare. Inset: Donald Trump. Photo: Arthur Ellis.
The 18th green at Doonbeg Golf Club in County Clare. Inset: Donald Trump. Photo: Arthur Ellis.

DONALD Trump's recently acquired luxury golf resort in the west of Ireland is set to return to its former glory after monster waves and a microscopic snail temporarily grounded the high-flying billionaire's plans.

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Less than a fortnight after the colourful American property mogul bought the five-star Doonbeg Lodge and Golf Resort in Co Clare for an estimated €15m last February, he was served with a stop-work order by Clare County Council after it received a report of unauthorised works taking place at the site to mitigate coastal erosion.

When violent storm surges generating 30-metre waves blasted the Atlantic coast in January and February, the 14th hole of the 18-hole golf course – designed by former world No 1 Greg Norman – was all but washed away.

Three other holes, including the 18th, the 5th and the 9th, were also seriously damaged as well as several kilometres of sand dunes overlooking the coast.

ENDANGERED

But when the Trump organisation brought in truckloads of rock armour to shore up the coastline as an emergency measure to prevent further erosion posed by high spring tides in March, it was served with an enforcement notice from the council to desist from carrying out any further works.

The defence system it was putting in place didn't comply with planning permission which carries specific requirements, including measures to protect a species of endangered snail that has been around since the Ice Age.

The extremely rare snail, known as the narrow-mouth whorl snail or angustior vertigo, is protected in Ireland.

The snail, which typically measures just 0.9mm in width and 1.8mm in height, lives in the sand dunes on the resort.

Under the terms of planning permission granted to the resort in 2011, protection of the snail's habitat must be included in any development or coastal erosion project.

Last night, Joe Russell, general manager of the hotel, which is now called the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel, said officials from the hotel will be meeting with the local council in the coming fortnight to discuss revised coastal erosion measures that comply with the planning permission. The hotel has put in place temporary measures to keep the sea at bay, including erecting temporary sand trap fences and planting marram grass to act as a natural barrier.

In the meantime, British golf course designer Martin Hawtree has been redesigning the golf course to mitigate the damage caused to the four holes, and Mr Russell said, "Our objectives have been to get the golf course playable for the summer, and we're almost there."

Irish Independent

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