Today, An Taisce made their submission to Clare County Council in respect of a planning application by TIGL Ireland Enterprises Ltd for permission for a development comprising coastal erosion management works at and adjacent to Carrowmore Dunes, White Strand, Doughmore Bay and Trump International Golf Links and Hotel, Doonbeg. [Note 1].

White Strand Beach and the Carrowmore Dunes are a stunning part of the Clare coastline which has drawn surfers and holiday goes to the region for decades. For generations the dunes near Doonbeg have protected the land behind them from coastal flooding at no expense to the taxpayer. They have provided a recreational space for tourists and locals alike, and support globally threatened wildlife. All of this however is under threat as the Donald Trump owned Trump International Golf Links seek to build monstrous coastal protection works which will destroy the sand dunes and blight one of the most stunning stretches of coast in the country.

The Carrowmore Dunes (Doonbeg) are a protected habitat providing a safe haven for some of the rarest habitats and wildlife in Ireland. Across Europe, it is estimated that 85% of sand dune ecosystems are under threat [Note 2]. The sand dunes are now in a perilous position as the life is being squeezed out of them on one side by the inappropriate design of the adjoining golf course and its management, and on the other side by the proposed construction of coastal protection works which would lock the dunes in place and starve them of the sand which is vital for the ongoing survival. Trump International Golf Links have put forward that coastal erosion is the greatest threat to the dunes and that their coastal protection works will ultimately save the dunes and protect the golf course and farmland inland. This is completely false as the sand dunes have adapted and shifted in response to erosion for millennia. Dunes are naturally dynamic systems and will retreat and advance in response to erosion. The dunes are currently being prevented from retreating by the inappropriately sited and designed golf course which should be realigned to allow the dunes to respond to rising sea levels.

In Ireland and elsewhere coastal squeeze caused by developments, such as inappropriately designed Golf courses are one of the greatest threats to sand dune habitats. Likewise coastal protection works such as those proposed by Trump International Golf Links Ltd are accepted as another of the greatest threats to sand dune habitats. This is recognised by Ireland’s National Parks and Wildlife Service who have repeatedly stated that “physical obstruction”, i.e. coastal protection works, are their greatest concern for the conservation of the site [Note 3]. This development is completely unnecessary. There is a growing list of countries internationally who have embraced sustainable coastal protection solutions and worked with sand dunes to provide sustainable and cost effective coastal protection. Internationally the Netherlands would be considered as one of the nations with the most to fear from coastal erosion and also one of the countries with the longest history of engineered coastal protection works. Yet in the Netherlands, the Dutch are protecting and restoring sand dunes because it is in fact more cost effective and better at protecting the coast than hard coastal protection works [Note 3 & Note 4].

In the Netherlands there is recognition that coastal dunes are important, multifunctional landscapes. They harbour many rare species, of both flora and fauna, protect the hinterland from flooding, provide society with drinking water and serve as recreational space [Note 5]. In countries like the Netherlands where the appreciation of the multifaceted value of Sand Dune ecosystems is growing the issue of dune stabilization is being tackled and sand dunes are being actively restored [Note 5].

Fintan Kelly, An Taisce’s Natural Heritage Officer stated

“The solution being put forward by Trump International Golf Links Ltd is in our opinion inappropriate, completely unsustainable and outdated. The conservation of sand dunes in the Netherlands, USA and UK have proven themselves to be more cost effective than hard coastal protection works and are supplying valued biodiversity and ecosystem services to local communities”.

He continued:

“Given the vast sums of money Donald Trump is claiming he will invest in Doonbeg Golf Course it is clearly within his means to reconsider the design and make Doonbeg great. A holistic approach to the management of our coastline must be taken if they are to remain resilient to climate change.”


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. Heslenfeld, P., Jungerius, P. D. & Klijn, J. A. (2004) European policy for coastal dunes. In Coastal Dunes 1 Ecology and Conservation, Martinez ML, Psuty NP (eds).. Ecological Studies 171, Springer-Verlag: Berlin, p. 335–351.
  3. National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) (2014b) Carrowmore Dunes SAC Conservation Objectives Supporting Document: Marine Habitats, [online] available:
  4. Arens, S. M. & Geelen, L. H. W. T. (2006) Dune landscape rejuvenation by intended destabilisation in the amsterdam water supply dunes. Journal of Coastal Research, pp. 22: 1094-1107.
  5. Arens, S. M. et al. (2013) Dynamic dune management, integrating objectives of nature development and coastal safety: examples from the Netherlands. Geomorphology, pp. 199, 205-213.
  6. Arens, S. M., Slings, Q. L., Geelen, L. H. W. T. & Van der Hagen, H. G. J. M. (2007) Implications of environmental change for dune mobility in The Netherlands. s.l., s.n.