Wednesday 26 October 2016

Trump's Doonbeg barrier still in the balance as planning hits a new wall

Gordon Deegan

Published 20/04/2016 | 02:30

US billionaire and political hopeful Donald Trump
US billionaire and political hopeful Donald Trump
US billionaire and political hopeful Donald Trump bought Doonbeg golf links in Co Clare

He has grand plans to build a wall across the US-Mexico border, but it seems Donald Trump's vision for a 2.8km barrier at Doonbeg golf course is proving problematic.

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The latest twist in the planning saga came as An Bord Pleanála ruled that the planning application for the 200,000-tonne rock barrier does not constitute Strategic Infrastructure Development (SID).

As a result, the US billionaire's firm TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd will have to relodge its plans with Clare County Council for the €10m 'berm', which is designed to protect the threatened links course from Atlantic storms.

Work at the Doonbeg golf resort stalled in 2014 after environmentalists expressed concerns that building would disrupt the habitat of the narrow-mouth whorl snail. The Trump organisation agreed to change the path of the wall.

Joe Russell, general manager of Doonbeg Golf Club, said the outcome of the application for the barrier would have important consequences for the local community.

"We had formed the opinion that this is a local matter where the outcome will determine the future of our business, the local community and its citizens," he said. He added that the consultation with An Bord Pleanála had cost the Trump company two months in lost time because the firm had to go back to square one. It would now be relodging the plans with the council.

However, Mr Russell said the time incurred by the firm before the board would have "no material influence" on the timeline for the development.

The resort first lodged plans with the council on February 23, with consultants warning that if the application wasn't successful it "will bring the viability of the entire resort and its potential closure into question".

However, the council quickly returned the application to the Trump firm, and requested the company consult with An Bord Pleanála to see whether the plan represented strategic infrastructure.

If that was the case, the application would bypass Clare County Council and be decided by An Bord Pleanála only. The Trump firm lodged the documents with the appeals board on March 9 - and it has now determined that it doesn't meet any of the three criteria to be an SID case.

The board inspector noted that the application aims to protect a valuable economic asset to Clare "and could also serve to protect the adjacent farmland from future coastal inundation which would in turn protect local farm livelihoods and incomes".

Trump recently dismissed his Doonbeg investment as "small potatoes" that his children could play with. But in 2014 he had flown in to Shannon Airport on his Boeing 757 jet emblazoned with the logo of Trump International along with his sons Donald Jnr and Eric and daughter Ivanka.

Irish Independent

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