The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only world heritage site, so it is only to be expected that a few eyebrows would be raised at the proposed development of a golf course a mere mile and a half from the famous tourist attraction. Despite strong opposition to the idea by the British National Trust, High Court judge, Mr Justice Weatherup, gave the go-ahead for the construction of the £100 million golf course yesterday.
For more than a decade, 67-year-old developer Alistair Hanna has dreamt about the transformation of the 356 acre site outside Bushmills, County Antrim into a top of the range golf club and, in face of his opposition, insists that: “The development is a mile and a half from the causeway. You won’t be able to see it from any part of the causeway. So I find it difficult to understand exactly what the problem is. In fact I think the development will be a boon for the Giant’s Causeway”, The Irish Times reports.
Northern Ireland’s Minister for the Environment, Alex Attwood, has said that he had considered both sides of the argument before granting planning permission and sees the golf course as an opportunity “to grow tourism, create new job opportunities, enhance our golf product and continue to protect our natural heritage” while James Orr, in support of the National Trust’s argument, said that the development was akin to building a drive-through hamburger bar at the Taj Mahal.
The National Trust has expressed great worry for the landscape which will be taken over by a five-star 120 bedroom hotel and 75 villas with a spa and acres of golfing grounds, stating: “We passionately believe that such a development in this protected landscape is wrong – once it’s gone, it’s gone”.
According to The Irish Times, arguments by those opposed to the development may have failed because world heritage guidelines have no standing in UK law.
Work will start as soon as possible on the new Bushmills Dunes Golf Resort and Spa.