County Clare, Ireland

21/07/11

For centuries, waves have been breaking on the limestone rocks at Crab Island and Doolin Point, forming impressive tubes. Yet in 2010, a pier extension project was launched, aiming to accommodate bigger ferries which require a longer dock in order to comply with European regulations on crossings and commercial ferries. The surrounding surf spots, and in particular the wave at Doolin Point, have since been under threat.

Gerard, Keeper in this fight and representative of the SFE Munster Chapter, was quick in launching a petition to protest and mobilise people against this project. In 2010, following several debates and public meetings, the project was at first cancelled. Yet unfortunately, in May 2011, the local authorities voted unanimously on the resumption of the initial project. This seemed to put an end to the fight, but there was still a possibility of calling upon the higher State authorities as the local Council had to obtain authorisation by the Ministry for the Environment and receive a coastal development permit before they could go ahead with the works. The Ministry stated that the Council had to reapply for planning permission for the pier as well as carry out an environmental impact study, in order to respond to the surfers' concerns with regards to the potential impacts on their wave.

In January 2012, County Clare commissioned a group of consultants to elaborate a new application for planning permission for the pier and to carry out an environmental impact study. According to the environmental impact study, which came back in July 2012, the project would not have any disastrous impacts on the waves. On the 31st of October 2012, an independent national body held a hearing in County Clare, presenting the project application and the associated impact study. The West Coast Surf Club, the Irish Surfing Association, and the Keeper took advantage of this occasion to submit the opinions of several expert witnesses, and in particular that of Dr. Shaw Mead, which highlighted a critical lack of information in the impact study submitted by County Clare. In November 2012, the municipality organised a public forum where opponents of the project could once again expound their arguments against the pier extension.

In March 2013, the project was finally approved, and work on the pier is expected to be completed by early 2015. This is a defeat for the Keeper and for Surfrider, but we would like to thank all those people who dedicated themselves to the fight, for their efforts and their trust in the association. Moreover, the same people who fought against the project are still investing themselves and are now involved in the realisation of the project, to ensure that its impacts on the wave are kept to a minimum.

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Coastal Development
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Coastal erosion, rising water levels, maritime transport, offshore platforms: the health of our coasts and oceans is permanently under threat.

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