Thursday 13 December 2018

Environmentalist to legally challenge Trump's proposed sea wall at Doonbeg golf club

The Doonbeg resort owned by Donald Trump. Photo: PA
The Doonbeg resort owned by Donald Trump. Photo: PA

Tim Healy

An environmentalist has secured leave from the High Court to challenge planning permission for a sea wall at US President Donald Trump's golf club at Doonbeg in Co Clare.

Just four days before Christmas last year, Clare Co Council gave permission to build a sea wall to stop part of the course at the Doonbeg Golf Club being eroded by the Atlantic.

The approval was granted despite opposition from An Taisce, Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), the West Coast Surf Club and others.

However, the plan - which involves building a 38,000 tonne rock barrier to protect three holes at the course “as a matter of urgency” - had the backing of the local community in Doonbeg.

On Monday, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted environmentalist Peter Sweetman permission to legally challenge the grant of planning permission and also put a stay on any appeal before An Bord Pleanala.

The case is against the council.  Trump International Golf Links Ireland Enterprises Ltd, An Bord Pleanala and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Galetacht are all notice parties.

In an affidavit, Mr Sweetman from Rossport,Ballina, Co Mayo said the development will include excavation of existing sand, the use of sheet piling backstops with and and cobbles currently on the beach being used to form a dune profile over a distance of 609 metres  at the northern end of Doughmore Bay, west of the golf course.

He said notwithstanding the considerable number of  submissions and reports where alleged deficiencies in the information presented were set out in detail, the council  granted permission on December 21, 2017.

Mr Sweetman said he had read all the documents publicly available and online and he could find no appropriate assessment or any reference to an appropriate assessment having been carried out.

He said this is a development which by virtue of its location in an extremely environmental sensitive location requires a full stage appropriate assessment before the grant of planning permission.

It is entirely unclear from the decision and the file the basis upon which the decision to grant planning permission was made and the assessments are not apparent, he said.

Mr Sweetman said it was clear from the information submitted to the council in the course of considering the planning application, and from reports compiled by the its own internal staff, there were significant issues with the quality of information submitted in the application and that these deficiencies were allegedly not remedied.

He said it is simply impossible to know how or why the council decided to grant the planning permission or how it resolved the matters of controversy.

In his judicial review proceedings, Mr Sweetman is looking for an order quashing the planning permission  for the development comprising coastal erosion management works at Carrowmore Dunes, White Strand, Doughmore Bay, Doonbeg.

He also wants a declaration  there was a failure to carry out or record any or any proper environmental impact assessment  or any proper appropriate assessment.

Mr Justice Noonan, granting leave to  seek judicial review, adjourned the case to May 1.

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