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Tuesday 23 January 2018

Dune frontage and snails 'at risk if Trump's rock barrier is not built'

Doonbeg owner Donald Trump (PA)
Doonbeg owner Donald Trump (PA)

Gordon Deegan

Up to 61 acres of dune frontage and the protected 2mm snail, the Vertigo Angustior, will be lost to the dunes at Doonbeg if the €10m Donald Trump rock barrier does not proceed.

They are the stark warnings contained in new plans lodged by the US billionaire's Irish firm, TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd, with Clare Co Council for the 2.8km, 200,000 tonne rock barrier or 'berm' required to be put in place along Doughmore Beach to protect the Trump golf links resort at Doonbeg from coastal erosion.

The plans have now been relodged with Clare Co Council after An Bord Pleanála ruled that the plan was not strategic infrastructure.

According to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) lodged with the plan, if nothing is done to combat coastal erosion at the site, "a considerable extent of dune frontage would continue to erode".

The consultants state that an analysis to 2050 indicates a loss of between 34.5 acres to 61 acres, while the consultants state that in a 'do nothing' scenario, "the prospects for Vertigo Angustior will remain bad and the population will ultimately diminish and be removed from the site".

The warnings echo the dire prediction elsewhere in the EIS that the 'do nothing' scenario in the medium term "will bring the viability of the resort and its potential closure into question".

Consultants for the Trump firm state that putting in place the coastal protection works "will benefit the community".

The stakes are high for the west Clare economy as consultants for Trump's company are forecasting a €38m bonanza for the economy over an eight-year period between 2017 and 2024 from the resort.

Underlining the resort's importance to the local economy, the EIS points out that between 2004 and 2014, the business paid out €51m in salaries while over the past five years, the resort has spent €6.3m on local goods and services. However, the EIS warns that "the proposal to develop coastal protection works at Doonbeg is key to releasing future investment at the site".

The document states that in the absence of such investment, the resort would continue to lose conference/event business in the short term and "the entire viability of the resort comes into question".

They point out that the employment effect of Doonbeg Golf Resort is comparable to multinational investment in an urban area and is arguably more significant in Doonbeg due to the absence of employment opportunities in west Clare.

They state that "coastal protection is feasible and it appears that a practical solution, which does not depend on the public purse, has been proposed".

They state that this type of protection has been utilised at many other coastal golf courses over the past 30 years.

The council is expected to make a decision on the application later this year.

Irish Independent

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