An Taisce has made its submission [1] to Clare County Council in regard to the most recent planning application by Trump International Golf Links Ireland (TIGL) for permission to construct coastal erosion management works at and adjacent to Carrowmore Dunes, White Strand, Doughmore Bay and Trump International Golf Links and Hotel, Doonbeg, Co. Clare.

The proposed development is to include two lengths of sheet piling over distances of approximately 609m and 256m, at the northern and southern end of Doughmore bay respectively.

An Taisce raises a number of objections to the proposal, many of which have been raised in our previous submission [2].

First and foremost, the proposal is being lauded as a solution to the problem of erosion. However, this is not the case.

What must be acknowledged is one of the root causes; the inappropriate design and siting of the golf course itself. Sea defence and stabilization works, and the expansion and development of golf courses have been noted as two of the leading drivers of sand dune loss internationally. The NPWS acknowledge, regarding Doonbeg, that ‘physical obstruction’ (i.e. coastal protection works), are their greatest concern for the conservation of the site [3]. The dunes are under pressure from coastal squeeze, (which occurs when the natural process of landward migration is prevented by coastal development and land use change), further compounded by the effect and sea-level rise caused by climate change.

The proposed development will not solve the problem but rather exacerbate it. This assertion is supported by points made by coastal experts William J. Neal, Emeritus Professor of Geology Grand Valley State University; Orrin Pilkey, James B. Duke Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences, Duke University; Andrew Cooper, of Coastal Studies, University of Ulster; and Joseph Kelley, Professor of Geology, University of Maine; who point out that the proposed works still amount to the installation of ‘beach-destroying seawalls.”

“...seawalls beget seawalls, and once these smaller walls are constructed, accelerated erosion will occur at the ends of the walls as well as beach steepening and probable narrowing in front of the walls. [...] Seawalls destroy beaches and if that ‘solution’ is followed ‘bigger and better’ walls will be needed as the wave size increases and sea-level rises [4].”

An Taisce maintains therefore, that not only will the proposed construction not solve the problem of erosion but it will likely have further negative consequences, such as increased erosion elsewhere, habitat loss and threats to nearby wetlands. The dunes themselves harbour important habitat and species, whose value and conservation status is not adequately addressed within the EIS.

An Taisce supports conservation approaches taken in other countries such as the UK, the USA and the Netherlands where coastal dunes have been recognised as important multifunctional landscapes. The approach of the Netherlands of soft-protection and active restoration of dune systems has proven to be more successful and cost-effective.

Therefore, An Taisce feels that the most cost effective and environmentally sustainable solution would be the redesign of the golf course itself, an option which has at no point in the application been considered.

This would allow the natural processes of erosion and accretion to continue, allowing the dune system to perform its function of protecting the land from effects of sea-level rise without destroying the habitat of the area and resulting in more serious impacts.

Fintan Kelly, An Taisce’s Natural Heritage Officer stated

The solution being put forward by Trump International Golf Links Ltd is bad for the people who love White Strand the Beach, Surf and Dunes and the protected habitats and species that depend upon its sustainable management. There may be new Trumps in charge and a new application but the negative impacts here haven’t changed. The conservation of sand dunes internationally has proven that they are more cost effective at protecting the coast than hard sea defenses and that they supply valued biodiversity and ecosystem services to local communities. The proposal is not supported by the scientific consensus that sea walls are not compatible with sand dune conservation. The golf course design and management simply has to change.


Fintan Kelly, Natural Environment Officer, An Taisce. Tel: +353 1 707 7063
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: [email protected]
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland

[1] An Taisce's submission
[2] An Taisce’s first submission
[3] National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) (2014b) Carrowmore Dunes SAC Conservation Objectives Supporting Document: Marine Habitats, [online] available:
[4] From a letter addressed to Mr. Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council.

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.