Clare county manager backs plan for Doolin pier


CLARE COUNTY manager Tom Coughlan is to recommend to councillors today that they approve contentious plans for a €6 million pier redevelopment at Doolin.

A majority of the authority’s 32 councillors will be required to vote for the proposal for the development to proceed.

A previous plan was withdrawn by the council in December in response to surfers’ concerns over the impact the pier development would have on waves. The revised plan is located 25m further away from the waves and is 15m shorter.

However, in response to the revised plan, the Irish Surfing Association has told the council that the proposal would destroy the Crab Island and Doolin Point waves “which have been surfed for decades and are world renowned”.

“Crab Island features in Footprint’s Guide to the World’s Top 100 Waves, one of three Irish waves to do so,” the association said.

Adding that Crab Island “is widely recognised as the jewel in the crown of Clare surfing and attracted top-class surfers from Ireland and around the world”, the association and the West Coast Surf Club have told the council that the plan could have serious consequences for the €33 million generated each year by surfers for Clare tourism.

Fáilte Ireland has backed surfers’ concerns, asking the council “to re-examine the existing proposal to redevelop Doolin pier to ensure that the improvement of the pier facilities can proceed without compromising the amenity of the area for surfers”.

The tourism agency says the council should examine alternative locations for the proposed development.

However, Fáilte Ireland’s opposition to the plan places it at odds with local tourism interests. Backed by more than 200 signatures, Doolin Tourism says the redevelopment of the pier is vital to preserving and growing the local tourism market.

Olwyn Egan of Doolin Tourism said: “We must strongly appeal for the plans for the development of the pier to now go ahead for the greater good of the area and the safety of all requiring the use of the pier facility.”

The Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard has also lodged a submission in support of the plan.

In response to surfers’ concerns, the manager’s report to councillors states that a wave modelling report confirms that the “greatest changes appear to occur to the east and northeast of Crab Island – which are outside the general surfing areas – and to a lesser extent in the approach between the island and the point”.

In order for the council to draw down the €6 million in Government funding, the project must be complete by this year.

The 32 councillors are expected to take their lead in the vote from the council’s five north Clare councillors. Yesterday, one of the five, Cllr Martin Conway (FG), said he would be voting in favour of the plan. “North Clare is struggling with tourism, and a proper pier would stimulate revenues.”

Two others, Cllr Joe Arkins (FG) and Cllr Michael Kelly (FF) had yet to make up their minds, while the remaining two, Cllr Richard Nagle (FF) and Cllr Michael Hillery (FF), did not return calls.