PLANS for a 28,000 tonne rock barrier to protect parts of the Trump International Golf Links in Doonbeg have been hit by a fresh three-month delay.
As a result, it is likely that a decision by Clare County Council on the planning application will not now be made until early next year.
This follows the Trump family-owned firm, TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd seeking, and securing, a three-month extension from Clare County Council in which to respond to a raft of further information requests for the contentious plan to install a 28,000 tonne rock barrier to protect “as a matter of urgency” holes 1, 9 and 18 at the links course.
The council requested the information across five pages in February and the golf resort’s deadline for replying is due to expire next Tuesday.
However, ahead of the deadline, the resort has secured the extension to November 22 and the council will then have eight weeks in which to make a decision, pushing it out to January 2018.
Plans were first lodged for coastal protection works in May of last year and that plan was withdrawn last December, in favour of a scaled-down proposal.
In a letter to the council seeking the extension, planning consultant for TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd, John Crean of Cunnane Stratton Reynolds stated that “the further information response is being prepared but it is taking some time to finalise it”.
General manager of Trump Doonbeg Joe Russell confirmed that the resort sought the extension “to ensure we provide all required information”.
Mr Russell was upbeat about the business being enjoyed by Trump International Doonbeg this year.
He said, “We are having a great year. The golf course is in great order, plenty of golfers and other visitors coming through the resort and we are discussing exciting plans for the future to enhance our facilities.”
Mr Russell said that the factors behind the strong performance this year were the “North American market is performing well, particularly the luxury end, while the Wild Atlantic Way is attracting a lot of day business”.
Due to the scale of the rock barrier proposal, it is likely that whatever decision the council makes, the plan would go before An Bord Pleanála. Those opposed to the current plan include An Taisce, Friends of the Irish Environment, the Irish Surfing Association and the West Coast Surf Club.
In its request for further information, the council told the Trump firm that the submitted Natura Impact Statement (NIS) “is not considered to present a scientific justification” for the planned rock barrier.
The council states that while it was acknowledged that the current proposal is a reduction on the plan withdrawn by the resort in December, “concerns still remain” over the rock barrier’s impact on the beach, the dune dynamics and the adjoining Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
The golf club has told the council in a ‘do nothing’ scenario, it will bring the entire viability of the resort and its potential closure into question.
However, in its further information request, the council states that the golf club’s ‘do nothing scenario’ “is not considered to be substantiated by scientific data or analysis”.
The local authority stated, “The NIS does not sufficiently address the potential risk that the entire length of the beach and dune face could potentially be impacted by the proposed development throughout the various stages of construction and operation.”
The council also told the golf resort that it does not consider that the NIS contains complete, precise and definitive conclusions capable of removing all reasonable scientific doubt as to the effects the rock barrier will have, particularly on the adjoining SAC.