Fears about the future of the Doonbeg golf links and hotel resort, owned by American billionaire Donald Trump, have eased after planning permission was refused for a proposed wind farm.
Clare County Council refused plans for the development of a new nine turbine wind farm near his golf resort in Doonbeg.
The location of Trump International Golf Links and Hotel to the Shragh wind farm has been cited as one of the main reasons why the local planning authority refused the development.
Mr Trump, who has vigorously opposed wind farms in Scotland and Ireland, was one of the 42 objectors, who opposed a planning application for a new wind farm in the townlands of Carrowmore South, Einagh and Shragh, about two kilometres south of Doonbeg village.
According to an objection lodged with the council by Cunnane Stratton Reynolds planning consultants, the proposed development would have a “detrimental impact on the viability of the Doonbeg Golf Resort and as a consequence tourism in the area”.
The consultants pointed out the Doonbeg Golf Resort is recognised as being the “single largest tourism project ever to have been undertaken in the West of Ireland”.
“The resort primarily relies on international bookings and in particular the North American market and a reduction in bookings, as a consequence of the visual impact from the proposed development, will have a serious negative impact on tourism in the area.
“The resort provides significant direct and indirect employment and represents an investment of €150 million in the area, which will generate the same again in additional indirect tourism investment, giving an estimated total tourism investment of up to €300 million along the west coast and surrounding area,” the consultants stated.
They argued the proposed development doesn’t and couldn’t address the refusal reasons as determined by An Bord Pleanála for a previous Strategic Infrastructure Development application of 45 wind turbines on the same lands.
After opening in 2002,Doonbeg Golf Resort is one of the largest direct employers in the West Clare region with about 230 people employed on a full-time and part-time basis. The resort recorded over 27,000 bed nights, 41,000 sleepers and 22,000 golfers in 2013.
Clare Coastal Wind Power had submitted a planning application for the development of nine electricity generating wind turbines with a hub height of up to 85 metres and a rotor diameter of up to 82 metres giving an overall height of up to 126 metres.
Having regard to the scale of the development, the proximity of the site to the developed Moanmore wind farm, which has seven turbines and the site of the permitted Tullabrack wind farm, which has six turbines, the authority considered it would result in excessive concentration of turbines at a location where the appropriate scale is identified as “medium” in the Wind Energy Strategy.
Taking into account the scale of the development, in conjunction with existing and permitted turbines in the area, its location relative to a number of residential properties, Doonbeg Village and tourist amenities, including Doonbeg Golf Club and Resort, the authority considered it would seriously injure the amenities of the area through visual intrusion and would result in an “overbearing visual impact”.
The authority wasn’t satisfied the proposed drainage system for the development wouldn’t constitute a serious risk of water pollution to the sensitive Doonbeg River, which has a significant concentration of freshwater pearl mussel.
It considered the Natura Impact Statement as submitted to the authority didn’t include a full scientific examination of evidence and data to identify and classify the full implications for the adjoining River Shannon and River Fergus Estuaries and Tullaher Lough and Bog, in particular with regard to implications of the development on the Greenland White Fronted Geese and other conservation objectives for these sites.
A spokesperson for the Rural Protection Group, which opposed the development, noted the refusal by the appeals’ board and the council was very comprehensive and hoped that the group would no longer have to face the challenge of any other wind farm applications in the locality.
However, the spokesperson added their opposition would continue if any other application was made for a wind farm in the area.