Trump resort scheme faces opposition from self-confessed ‘Nimby’

Activist and serial objector lodges appeal against plans for Doonbeg rock barrier

A column of grass bales erected to prevent erosion, near Donald Trump’s Doonbeg resort, in Co Clare. File photograph: Paulo Nunes dos Santos/The New York Times

A column of grass bales erected to prevent erosion, near Donald Trump’s Doonbeg resort, in Co Clare. File photograph: Paulo Nunes dos Santos/The New York Times

 

A planning activist and serial objector has sought to put the brakes on plans for the construction of a 38,000-tonne rock barrier at US president Donald Trump’s Doonbeg golf resort.

Peter Sweetman has lodged an appeal against the decision by Clare County Council to give the contentious plan the go-ahead.“I am a Nimby (Not In My Back Yard) and Ireland is my backyard,” he said.

Mr Sweetman is a son of the former Fine Gael minister Gerald Sweetman. He has previously been involved in campaigns opposing the Corrib pipeline in Co Mayo, large road schemes, wind-farms and waste-to-energy plants.

He said he currently had about 10 judicial review applications with the High Court over An Bord Pleanála decisions relating to various planning applications.

“I don’t object,” he insisted. “I make submissions and claim to have improved many developments.”

Trump’s company maintains the rock barrier is necessary to protect sand dunes from coastal erosion, which its application to the council said was caused in part by climate change – a phenomenon the US president has elsewhere referred to as a “hoax”.

Mr Sweetman said his opposition to the rock barrier at Doonbeg “is about the Habitats Directive, the law and Doonbeg golf course – not me”.

In the immediate aftermath of the decision by the council last month, Doonbeg farmer John Flanagan urged objectors not to appeal it.

“It is our lands and our livelihood. The plan is only trying to protect the hills from being washed away. Let us live here with the consequences of the decision. It is the best shot we have here,” he said.

Asked to respond to Mr Flanagan’s comments, Mr Sweetman said he did not think that Mr Flanagan had “read the [Doonbeg planning] application”.

“I believe in the law. The Habitats Directive is law,” he said.

Long-time opponent

Mr Sweetman is a long-time opponent of the golf course and represented Friends of the Irish Environment at an An Bord Pleanála oral hearing in 1999, where the previous owners of the golf course secured planning permission for the resort.

In its appeal on behalf of Wild Ireland against the barrier verdict, the Rathmines-based Peter Sweetman and Associates claims that the decision to grant permission is fundamentally flawed in law and that the appeals board is precluded in law from granting permission.

Mr Flanagan said he was “disappointed” that an appeal had been lodged against the decision.

In an interview earlier this week, Joe Russell, general manager of the Doonbeg resort, said the coastal protection works were “critical to the future of this business, its growth, sustainability and economic impact locally and in the region”.

Mr Russell said the resort was planning to build leisure facilities but that “coastal protection must be completed first to ensure any asset that is invested and built is protected”.

Other third parties are expected to appeal the council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála and have until January 26th to do so.