Last Monday Clare County Councillors voted to construct a new pier at Doolin, Co. Clare. There is no option to appeal this decision to An Bord Pleanála, ruling out an easy route for an independent assessment.
While many believe that the decision is concrete and the case is done and dusted, this is not the situation. The West Coast Surf Club and Irish Surfing Association will strive to have the pier re-designed to ensure it will not destroy the waves at Doolin Point and Crab Island and will not impact on surfers health and safety.
Photo Copyright: Paudie Scanlon
I am currently working with a tight group of others in the West Coast Surf Club Development Committee on the next step to save these waves. Planning permission was granted by the Councillors of Clare for the development however a large portion of the development is located in the foreshore. This area is classed as bed and shore, below the line of high water of ordinary or medium tides, of the sea. All the foreshore of Ireland is presumed state-owned unless valid alternative title is provided. Subsequently, Clare County Council have to obtain a foreshore lease from the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government to proceed with the development.
A lease is required in this instance as opposed to a licence as a lease is generally issued for a development that requires exclusive occupation of the foreshore. Developments requiring a lease would include for example: jetties, bridges, piers, marinas, offshore windfarms and reclamation of any foreshore.
The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government received an application for a foreshore lease by Clare County Council on 3 March, 2011.
The Department will now assess the proposed development with the assistance of their internal technical staff and any outside experience required.
The Department will soon instruct Clare County Council to advertise the application to the public in certain newspapers and to invite submissions to the Minister within a 21-day notice period. This notice period will commence on the date of publication of the notice in the press.
We expect that the public consultation period will begin within the next week or so.
The image below illustrates the serious health and safety hazard that will be created, with surfers paddling across the path of ferries, battling with new and more intense currents.
We (WCSC) will be making a substantial submission on this foreshore lease application with a hope that the development will get a full, independent assessment taking all matters into account.
Given that a new government has just been elected to Dail Eireann with a premise to remove cronyism and bad planning decisions that are made on financial grounds, we must hope that they hold true to their word and give this application the attention it deserves without overlooking the surfers concerns.
Under the Foreshore Act 1933 The Minister has absolute discretion to accept or reject an application for a foreshore lease to permit construction in Irish coastal waters…
Where a development is sub-threshold i.e. does not require an Environmental Impact Statement (Doolin Pier Application) an appraisal of the environmental effects of a development below the threshold must be submitted by the applicant to allow the Minister to decide whether it is likely to have significant effects on the environment. Where the decision is “yes” an EIS is mandatory.
Just recently a new Facebook page has been set up to obtain support for the cause and to illustrate to the national and international community the ill-fated decision which has recently been made. International Pro-Sufers such as Sunny Garcia, Taylor Knox and Julian Wilson have already given their support and it is anticipated that this support will continue from many other pro’s and regular members of the community alike.
The Facebook Page contains members who agree to the following statement:
“By joining this group you support the surfers concerns regarding the proposed pier at Doolin, Co. Clare. You agree that the proposed development as designed is not acceptable and will have a serious impact on surfing waves at Crab Island & Doolin Point and will result in a serious health and safety risk relating to surfers access to the water“
A great deal of work has been undertaken over the past year to have surfers concerns addressed. We are not in opposition to a new pier development, however we believe that a design that does not impact on the waves and surfers health and safety can be achieved, the current proposal does not meet this criteria.