Trump’s Doonbeg resort sees another planning setback

Clare County Council seeks additional information on coastal defence scheme

Doonbeg Golf Resort in Co Clare, from which US President Donald Trump resigned last month, has again run into difficulties with plans for coastal defences.

Clare County Council has sought more information on a scaled-back coastal defence scheme, in a move which the resort developers said could push the project back by up to six months.

Late last year the resort scrapped plans for a major coastal barrier involving a €10 million, 200,000-tonne rock barrier along a 2.8 kilometre stretch of the Doughmore beach, citing delays in the planning process.

At the time the resort said it needed to get a scheme in place urgently to protect the course from further erosion from the Atlantic.


In December 2016 the resort lodged plans for the reduced scheme to protect exposed areas adjacent to the first, ninth and 18th holes on the internationally acclaimed links course. A spokesman for the resort said the smaller plan could be built in 12 weeks.

However Clare County Council has written to both Trump International Golf Links, which owns the resort, and objectors to the revised scheme, seeking additional information in relation to the works which are located in an the Carrowmore Special Area of Conservation, an EU protected habitat.

The resort’s general manager, Joe Russel, said a positive decision on the planning permission would have allowed the resort to “get on with the process” of protecting the course. He said the request for further information could lead to a delay of up to six months.

Speaking about the set back, Mr Russel said: “We are developers, we have been developing here for years, we just have to go with it.”

Friends of The Irish Environment, a group which has objected to the planning application, said the council was seeking a response to a statutory submission from the Parks and Wildlife Service which raised questions about the project.

Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment said the authorities have “reiterated the fundamental problem”, which was the conservation objectives for Doonbeg, including maintaining “the natural circulation of sediment and organic matter, without any physical obstructions”.

He said the proposed coastal defences will “prevent the natural circulation of sediment and organic matter by building a physical obstruction”.

He said the submission from the Parks and Wildlife Service points out that on the basis of the “limited scientific evidence presented” it was possible that the proposed development will significantly alter the natural process of erosion and deposition.

“This could lead to adverse effects on the integrity of at least one European conservation site,” he said.

“The applicant has been told twice now in polite language that his proposal is clearly against the legally binding conservation objectives. This developer is banging his head against a wall,” he said.

In the days before he resigned as a director of his commercial holdings prior to being sworn in as US president, Mr Trump gave an interview to The Times of London in which he commented on the Doonbeg planning difficulties.

He said: “I own a big property in Ireland, magnificent property called Doonbeg.

“What happened is I went for an approval to do this massive, beautiful expansion - that was when I was a developer, now I couldn’t care less about it . . . but I learnt a lot because . . . they were using environmental tricks to stop a project from being built. I found it to be a very unpleasant experience.

“To get the approvals from the EU would have taken years.

“I don’t think that’s good for a country like Ireland.”

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist