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Saturday 17 March 2018

€10m Trump sea wall plan shelved

Eric Trump at his father’s hotel and golf course in Doonbeg, Co Clare. Photo: Press 22
Eric Trump at his father’s hotel and golf course in Doonbeg, Co Clare. Photo: Press 22

Gordon Deegan

US President-elect Donald Trump has abandoned plans for his controversial €10m rock barrier wall for his Doonbeg golf links resort.

The billionaire had sought permission for a 2.8km sea defence structure to protect the golf links from the Atlantic Ocean.

But yesterday, the Trump Doonbeg Golf Resort confirmed the application had been withdrawn at Clare Co Council.

In its place, the resort unveiled plans for a scaled- down proposal that will protect exposed areas adjacent to holes at 1, 9 and 18.

The original proposal involved the placing of a 200,000-tonne rock barrier.

However, the new plan will protect around one third of that - 900 metres - 650 metres at the south and 250 metres at the north of the beach. The new proposal would also involve only 20pc of the volume of the original proposal.

It will involve the resort seeking permission from the council to place sheet pile and rock armour at a number of locations on the seaward edge of the golf course.

The construction period for the original proposal was eight months while the new plan will take around 12 weeks to put in place. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be lodged with the new plan.

The old plan was to be 20 metres wide and four metres high, whereas the new plan "would not be visible to view".

Joe Russell, general manager of the Trump resort said the larger plan had been withdrawn over the resort's concerns that the process "would take three to four years" to secure permission.

He said: "Was that acceptable given the threat of the ocean?

''It wasn't and what we needed to do was to protect the vital areas of the golf course where we feel any more erosion would cause huge disruption to our business."

He added that the reason for the withdrawal "is time. I don't have the time and the ocean keeps coming at me".

On the new plan, Mr Russell said: "We need to get a far quicker solution that would protect the golf holes under threat."

Last June, in its request for further information, Clare Co Council stated that it didn't have sufficient scientific evidence that would allow it to conclude that the barrier would not adversely impact on the integrity of the EU-designated Carrowmore Dunes Special Area of Conservation (SAC) at the site.

In its request for further information, the council wanted 51 separate items on the contentious proposal across eight pages.

Mr Russell said yesterday: "The request for further information was significant and if we were to undergo that process, it would take a substantial amount of time. That is time which we don't have."

He added that the council did listen to the concerns expressed in the request for further information and the observations made when drawing up the revised plan. He said: "We read what people had to say and incorporated some of those concerns into the new plan.

"I am very hopeful that it will get planning permission. I don't think there is anything contentious in it and it protects the asset."

Tony Lowes, from Friends of the Irish Environment, said: "While the sense of relief today is enormous - as is our gratitude to the international community - the current proposal will require detailed analysis in terms of the conservation objectives before we can comment on it."

Irish Independent

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