AN BORD Pleanála has been criticised for overturning planning permission granted by Waterford County Council for a €150 million development outside Tramore that would have acted as a “considerable economic stimulus” for the county.
More than 200 residents in the seaside town and surrounding area objected to the golf course, hotel and accommodation facilities planned at Garrarus and Kilfarrasy, about six kilometres outside Tramore, by local developer William Bolster of IslandiKane Developments.
It has been claimed the development would have created about 400 construction jobs locally and 150 long-term jobs in the area.
There was considerable opposition to the plan from residents as well as from An Taisce, Birdwatch and the Department of the Environment, while Waterford county councillors earlier this year passed a motion of no-confidence in An Bord Pleanála.
Objectors maintained the development would have an adverse effect on the coastal community and environment.
Traffic congestion in the rural area and a possible disturbance to chough birds were among concerns raised at meetings in Tramore.
A spokesman for the Garrarus and District Concerned Residents group, who opposed the proposed development, said: “It is not an inappropriate analogy to compare this site with sites of such environmental and geological significance as the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare or the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim.
“If such a development were proposed in either of these locations of special protection, there would be public outrage.
“Though this site is less well known than these examples, the designations protecting it are no less and as such it must be considered and protected similarly,” said the spokesman.
However, Tramore town councillor Anne Marie Power, also a Waterford county councillor, said the decision would result in a “major blow to our economy” that “really sends out a very bad signal about jobs.
“The €150 million capital expenditure would have been a huge fiscal stimulus, not just to Tramore but to Co Waterford.
“So, from everybody’s point of view . . . the stakeholders that are interested in improving our economic base and in providing jobs, this decision was most regrettable.”
In issuing its decision, An Bord Pleanála said: “It is considered that the proposed development . . . which is highly visible from the eastern coastline and the adjoining road network, would constitute a development out of character with the existing relatively unsettled and unspoilt coastal area.”
The development would also “seriously injure” the visual and recreational amenities of the area.