Dublin golf club is told to stop clearance work on protected land

 

Killiney Golf Club in south Co Dublin has been issued with a written order to stop clearance work on land it owns in an area known as Rocheshill.

An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, complained that the club had carried out clearance works that cut a "huge swathe like a crater" through a portion of the hill, which is deemed a natural heritage area.

The club said it was breaking no laws and was securing the boundary of the club with a four-foot fence because of increasing vandalism. Mr Michael Walsh, the club's secretary-manager, said they were building the fence to separate club-owned land from that owned by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

About 40 feet was cut through, Mr Walsh said, but it was predominantly ferns, which would be reinstated, and they did not uproot any trees, in what he described as a very rocky area.

"We have had greens dug up and flags stolen. Just two weeks ago the club was broken into and they stole two buggies, crashed them and dug up one of the greens," he added. Golfers were being pelted with golf balls by youngsters, "ironically from club land".

Earlier yesterday Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said it was investigating the case, and two senior planning officials visited the golf club site. It is believed to have issued a written order to the club to cease further work.

The club bought three acres of Rocheshill from the council in 1989. "They bought a natural heritage area. It's not their back garden where they can put up any old dog-box they like," said Prof P.J. Drudy, chairman of the Rocheshill Protection Association. The area was designated for protection and preservation in successive county council development plans as a "site of scientific interest" and a "natural heritage area".

The golf club was proposing to fence off the area and to block off existing pedestrian pathways. "This proposal would interfere with rights of way and unlimited access established over centuries," Prof Drudy said.

There had been "consistent opposition from local elected councillors and TDs of all political parties to interference with this area over several decades. In 1995 the planning authority refused permission for an extension of the golf course on to Rocheshill", which An Bord Pleanala upheld.