GEO slams Irish resort plan

By AML

Plans for a new resort development in County Waterford, Ireland, including a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, have been attacked by the Golf Environment Organisation.

The Islandikane development, planned for a clifftop site six kilometres west of the town of Tramore, was granted planning permission recently, but the decision has been appealed against, and the case has been referred to Ireland’s national planning authority, with a decision expected by 8 September. A GEO spokesman said: “Waterford County Council has massively disregarded the principles of sustainable development and failed to fulfil its obligations under existing legislation and international environmental agreements.” The special protection area was designated to aid the preservation of rare birds such as the chough and peregrine falcon.

The €150 m development includes the Nicklaus course, a health spa and a range of entertainment, sport and leisure facilities as well as a 142 bedroom hotel, 40 associated golf lodges and 28 houses. Construction is expected to provide employment for over 350 people with a further 150 full-time jobs to be provided on opening.

GEO biodiversity advisor Conor Kretsch said the decision to grant planning permission was bad for both environment and golf. “Appropriate golf development can support nature conservation planning and thereby provide significant benefits to local communities, the economy and the environment, but only where every available option has been taken to guarantee the conservation of local biodiversity, and respect the integrity of protected areas and ecosystems. As with any development, it must be a case of the right project in the right place at the right time. By co-operating with the Department of the Environment and BirdWatch Ireland, rather than resisting them, there could be ample scope for a developer to incorporate sustainable golf development with nature conservation objectives at Islandikane. It is a shame that such initiative has not been shown, that the current design and approach to planning is contrary to the principles of sustainable golf development, and that Waterford County Council has failed in its remit.”

Developer William Bolster said: “There will be no damage done to the wildlife in this area – including the choughs. In fact, Jack Nicklaus and his design team have made this a priority and have told us that many of their courses have been recognised for their environmental efforts. At least 40 Nicklaus courses in the US have been involved with Audubon International, the environmental education organisation.”

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