Friday 28 July 2017

Trump: 'Environmental tricks' stopped expansion of Doonbeg

Doonbeg Community Development Chairman John O’Dea and Brendan Walsh from Boston celebrate Donald Trump’s victory in Doonbeg, Co Clare, last November. Photo: Eamon Ward
Doonbeg Community Development Chairman John O’Dea and Brendan Walsh from Boston celebrate Donald Trump’s victory in Doonbeg, Co Clare, last November. Photo: Eamon Ward

Gordon Deegan

US president-elect Donald Trump has claimed EU environmental "tricks" have prevented him from undertaking a "massive, beautiful expansion" of his Co Clare golf resort.

Mr Trump said while he had secured approval for the works at the Doonbeg resort from the Government, it would have taken "years" to overcome EU environmental hurdles.

Mr Trump bought the Doonbeg resort, which sits on more than 400 acres and includes more than 200 hotel suites and several restaurants, in February 2014 for a reported €15m.

Shortly after he purchased the property, he promised to spend "far, far in excess" of the amount paid, up to €45m, and was considering a complete rebuild of the links course.

"I own a big property in Ireland, magnificent property called Doonbeg," he said in an interview with the UK 'Times'.

"What happened is I went for an approval to do this massive, beautiful expansion - that was when I was a developer, now I couldn't care less about it - but I learnt a lot because I got the approvals very quickly from Ireland, and then Ireland and my people went to the EU to get the approval - it was going to take years - that was a very bad thing for Ireland.

"They were using environmental tricks to stop a project from being built - I found it to be a very unpleasant experience.

"To get the approvals from the EU would have taken years. I don't think that's good for a country like Ireland so you know what I did? I said forget it I'm not gonna build it."

Planning files in Clare County Council show that his company has only ever sought permission for works to halt coastal erosion at the Doonbeg resort, with no application for an expansion of the property.

The plans have brought him into conflict with environmentalists because dunes abutting the resort are protected and home to a microscopic snail, the Vertigo angustior.

Clare County Council is evaluating a plan to protect three holes on the golf course, which will involved thousands of tonnes of rock being placed on the beach. A decision is due next month.

On his remarks that he "couldn't care less" about the resort, chair of the Doonbeg Development Community Company John O'Dea said: "I would take what Mr Trump said very lightly and not seriously at all."

Some €25m has been invested upgrading Doonbeg in 2014 and 2015, the Trump Organisation has claimed.

Doonbeg farmer John Flanagan said: "You couldn't expect Mr Trump to say anything else, could you, when he is supposed to be cutting all ties with his business interests?"

Irish Independent

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