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Monday 20 May 2019

Trump on collision course over Doonbeg turbine plan

Doonbeg golf course and, inset, Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka
Doonbeg golf course and, inset, Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka
Donald Trump's jet at Shannon in 2014
Donna Trump with his daughter and two sons
Ivanka Trump
Ivanka Trump chats to Michael Noonan and Donald Junior

Gordon Deegan

US billionaire Donald Trump is on a collision course with developers that are planning to erect a giant wind farm only 4km from his Doonbeg golf club.

It comes after Clare Coastal Windpower Ltd lodged fresh plans with Clare County Council for a nine turbine wind farm on the coast of the county.

The turbines involved would be nearly 20 feet higher than Dublin's Spire.

The lodging of the plans follows Mr Trump declaring on his well-publicised trip to Clare in May that the council had "killed" the prospect of wind-turbines being erected near Doonbeg.

This followed the council invalidating previous plans by Clare Coastal Windpower Ltd for a wind farm at the same site.

However, the firm has now relodged its plans for its 413 ft high wind farm 2km from Doonbeg village and 4km from the Greg Norman-designed links course.

Documents lodged by the firm with the council show that the wind farm will be visible from Mr Trump's golf resort where he is planning to spend up to €45m.

Yesterday, executive vice president at the Trump organisation George Sorial said: "We will examine the planning application in the next number of days.

"If we conclude that it jeopardises our investment at Doonbeg, we will do whatever is necessary to fight it and protect the beauty of our site."

Speaking from the Trump HQ in Manhattan, Mr Sorial said: "We have a very good track record of fighting these monstrosities."

Mr Sorial claimed that wind farms "are fuelled purely on government subsidies".

He added: "They are not self-funding and don't create jobs. Once the subsidies go, so do the wind farms".

He said: "It is ludicrous to believe that wind farms are compatible with or enhance tourism.

"Anyone who believes that wind farms enhance tourism in an area is just plain stupid."

However the Trump organisation may find itself at odds with 23 west Clare landowners who stand to receive an annual dividend from the wind farm.

Mr Sorial said: "That is unfortunate, but we have to do whatever is necessary to protect our investment."

The nine turbine plan is a scaled down proposal of a locally divisive 45 turbine plan that was refused on a number of grounds last year by An Bord Pleanala.

According to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) lodged with the new plan, it states that "it is not anticipated that the proposal will cause any negative impact to tourism in the area".

The EIS states that during the construction phase of the project, "significant employment will be provided".

The EIS also states that the previous plan was turned down due to impact on amenity and as a result, the new plan is avoiding Doonbeg village and Doonbeg golf club.

During the project's 25 year life, the promoters have undertaken to pay €675,000 - or €27,000 per annum - to local community projects.

A decision is due on the application in October.

Donald Trump purchased Doonbeg for about €15m and announced a major upgrade for the course, estimating hundreds of jobs would be created.

He admitted he had wanted to buy the 500 acres on the Atlantic coast for four years before sealing the deal this year.

Irish Independent

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