Attwood criticised for golf course decision


The North’s Minister for the Environment Alex Attwood acted “unreasonably” and “irrationally” in granting permission for a £100 million golf complex close to the Giant’s Causeway, Belfast High Court was told yesterday.

A judicial review initiated by the British National Trust was told the SDLP Minister had failed to properly assess the impact of the development on Northern Ireland’s only Unesco world heritage site.

The trust is challenging the permission granted to Dr Alistair Hanna (67), a wealthy New York City-based businessman who is originally from the Holywood Road in Belfast, to build the resort on the 356-acre site at Runkerry outside the village of Bushmills. The resort is to include an 18-hole championship golf course, clubhouse, golf academy, 120-bedroom hotel incorporating conference facilities and spa, and 75 guest suites/lodges.

Stewart Beattie QC said Mr Attwood acted “unreasonably” in not properly informing Unesco before taking his decision last February to grant permission for the complex. The world heritage committee of Unesco wants the development halted until it has carried out a full evaluation.

Mr Beattie said the Minister “failed to grapple with the impact” of the proposed resort on the Giant’s Causeway in north Antrim, which is run by the National Trust.

Mr Beattie on behalf of the trust added that the Minister acted “irrationally” in his evaluation of the issues and was poorly advised.