Trumps irish wall rejected : a victory for coastal preservation

18/03/20

Build a wall on an Irish beach to protect a golf course from erosion : this was Donald Trump’s idea of environmental protection. Since 2016, Surfrider Europe has been working with local and international organisations like Friends of the Irish Environment and Save the Waves to coordinate our actions against this project. In 2018, a file that contained all scientific evidence of environmental risk was brought to the Commision for Urban Planning. Two years later, the commission rendered its verdict, refusing to deliver a building permit to Trump International Golf Links & Hotel.

A wall 2.8 km long and 5+ meters high

The Trump International Golf Links & Hotel is situated along Doughmore beach where erosion is taking a toll on sections of the course. In 2016, Trump submitted a request to build a 200,000 ton wall, 2.8 km long and 5m high, to protect his course from further damage. The issue is that this proposed wall would, in fact, have the opposite of the desired effect; speeding up and enhancing erosion of the coastline and endangering the beautiful Carrowmore Dunes, which are classified as a « special conservation zone » by the European Union. If this wall project passes, it would lead to a possible 125,000 square meter loss of coastline. 

Facing environmental backlash in December of 2017, Trump's company altered its proposal requesting instead to build a « coastal defence » made of metallic planks and shielding made of rocks hidden over 650 meters on one side and 250 meters on the other. The County Clare approved the new proposal.

A file submitted to the Planning Appeal Commission

In January 2018, Surfrider Europe joined with Save The Waves to appeal the decision at the Urbanisation Appeal Commission. The appeal is based on the fact that the construction of a wall, regardless of the structure, will accelerate the process of erosion and could eventually lead to the total disappearance of the dunes, and golf course. 

Trent Hodges who is the manager of conservation programs declared that « overwhelming scientific proof shows that the protection of the coast [via wall construction] will enhance erosion and would lead to the loss of precious beaches ». Alternative, natural methods of coastal defense, such as enforcing the existing dunes, are much more efficient as they protect infrastructure on the coastline like the golf course whilst keeping the beaches unscathed.

In March 2020, after four years of struggle, the Doughmore Wall project was finally rejected by the Planning Appeal Commission. The appeals board stated that it is precluded from granting planning permission as it was not satisfied that the proposed development would not adversely affect the integrity of the Carrowmore Dunes, in view of the site’s conservation objectives. Another victory for Surfrider Europe in its fight for coastal preservation.

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