The Councillor’s vote on the Doolin Pier proposal took place yesterday at the County Council offices, Ennis, Co. Clare.
The exact details of the decision are not yet clear but the situation appears to be as follows:
The Councillors decided not to approve the pier as originally proposed. It appears the Councillors were concerned of the potential impacts the proposed development would have on the top surfing waves at Crab Island and Doolin Point and the potential health and safety hazard that would arise for surfers gaining access to the water.
Many local surfers filled the public gallery at the Council office to show their disapproval for the pier. There are different rumours that the consultation process has been extended and that a revised proposal is now being put forward.
The revised proposal is for a pier 25 metres further away from Crab Island, 15 metres shorter with a change in the pier angle also. This redesign was proposed by the Council during the process as a possible solution to the surfers concerns. However, the wave modelling undertaken was inaccurate and not fully complete.
It appears that Clare County Council were concerned that a vote on the revised proposal which was not readvertised for public consultation may have been outside the law.
This revised proposal will now go under public consultation again and new wave modelling is to be undertaken. It is not too clear at the moment if the surfers will be actively involved in the redesign before the planning process begins again but we will be striving to be fully involved.
In my opinion the proposed development was rejected by the Councillors as a decision has to be made in accordance with Section 179(4)(b) of the Planning & Development Act 2000, there does not appear to be any provision for an extension of the consultation period once the Councillors receive the Manager’s Report:
“Following the consideration of the manager’s report under paragraph (a), the proposed development may be carried out as recommended in the manager’s report, unless the local authority, by resolution, decides to vary or modify the development, otherwise than as recommended in the manager’s report, or decides not to proceed with the development.”
It appears that the process will start afresh with submissions from the public welcomed once the planning process starts again. The situation should become more clear over the coming days. However, some reports state that there was no vote on the pier by the councillors and it is deferred until the public are consulted on the revised proposal. If this is the case the decision may be made within 6 weeks of the date when the Councillors received the Manager’s Report.
Section 179(4)(c) of the Planning & Development Act states:
(c) A resolution under paragraph (b) must be passed not later than 6 weeks after receipt of the manager’s report.
From the original wave modelling prepared for this revised proposal, which the surfers had sight of, it appears that the pier will still affect the waves with the surfers safe access also to be addressed. This will be clarified when more accurate wave modelling is undertaken.
It’s still a good decision at this point in time and it appears that the Councillors took the surfers concerns and the Lahinch Area Surf Economic Report into consideration. However a lot of work will need to be undertaken in the coming weeks to ensure the surfers concerns are fully considered, especially if the proposal will be up for vote within the next 6 weeks.