Golf Courses

This agreement was the result of a five day battle in the High Court between Friend's Director Tony Lowes and the American developers of the golf course about the agreement with the Government to protect a rare snail, vertigo angustior. The agreement was amended, the case was settled, and under an anual review the snail is thriving.

COMPROMISE



BETWEEN TONY LOWES

and

THE IRISH NATIONAL GOLF CLUB LTD.

and

THE MINISTER FOR ARTS, HERITAGE, GAELTACHT AND THE ISLANDS

and

THE MINISTER FOR TOURISM, SPORT, AND RECREATION

and

IRELAND AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL


The aforementioned parties hereby agree and consent that the following Order be made by this Honourable Court:

1. The Respondent/Developer (the Irish National Golf Club Limited) agrees to amend the Management Agreement entered into with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands on the 26th of November, 1999 so as to confirm that Clause No. 4 shall not be interpreted as taking away from the obligation of the Irish National Golf Club Limited to implement in full the proposals set out in the Management Plan.

2. The Respondent agrees to provide to the Applicant a letter of comfort from Dr. Evelyn Moorkens, the acknowledged expert Environmental Scientist and Conchologist, to confirm that the provisions of the revised Management Agreement dated the 5th April, 2000 (referred to in paragraph 1) above affords and ensures the favourable conservation status of the snail Vertigo angustior on the Respondent's land at Doonbeg, County Clare.

3. The Applicant for his own part and with the authority of the Steering Committee of Friends of the Irish Environment and in his position as Chairman of the Environment Committee of An Taisce agrees to the withdrawal of both proceedings by striking out same and to the lifting of all interim and/or interlocutory relief previously imposed by Court Order in the said proceedings on 25th January, 2000 (and subsequently continued).

4. The Applicant for his own part and with the authority of the Steering Committee of Friends of the Irish Environment and in his position as Chairman of the Environment Committee of An Taisce agrees to make no future objection or complaint regarding the development of the above named Respondent being carried out on the lands at Cloonmore, Carrowmore North, Carrowmore, Doughmore Bay at Doonbeg, County Clare under planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanala (Planning Ref. No. P98/655 dated 29th July, 1999).

5. The applicant agrees to withdraw the complaint made by him to the European Commission.

6. The Applicant agrees to publish on the FIE website the terms of this agreement and effect the withdrawal of any critical references to the development at Doonbeg from this website and any other website under his control.

7. The Applicant for his own part and with the authority of the Steering Committee of Friends of the Irish Environment and in his position as Chairman of the Environment Committee of An Taisce recognises the concerns of the Respondent in developing and operating a golf course, hotel, holiday home and leisure centre development to the highest standards for the protection of the environment and putting in place the requirements of the Habitats Directive where applicable.

8. The Applicant for his own part and with the authority of the Steering Committee of Friends of the Irish Environment and in his position as Chairman of the Environment Committee of An Taisce shall raise no objection to any future planning application to be made by the Respondent in respect of its development at Doonbeg, Co. Clare, provided the same is in accordance with law and with the Management Plan and has the approval of Dr. Evelyn Moorkens.

9. The proceedings herein both pursuant to Section 27 of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Ac t, 1976 (as amended) and the Judicial Review proceedings shall be struck out with no Order as to costs.

10. Irish National Golf Club Limited agree to be bound by the terms of their comfort letter to the applicant.

Dated this 5th day of April, 2000

Signed by Tony Lowes

and

Desmond J. Houlihan, Director of the Irish National Golf Club

and

Alan J. Craig, for the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands


=================


COMFORT LETTER

FROM THE IRISH NATIONAL GOLF CLUB LIMITED

In the spirit of the new relationship entered into between the parties, and after the compromise of the Judicial Review and Section 27 proceedings, the Irish National Golf Club Limited agree as follows:-

1) To produce and implement revised construction drawings when available which illustrate no more than minimal changes in topography in the area of the habitat, such changes subject to the approval of Dr. Moorkens; the construction of the tees and greens to be regarded as minimal changes.

2) A commitment to exercise due care with respect to the use of any weedkiller or pesticide with the objective of maintaining favourable conservation status for Vertigo angustior in accordance with guidance from Dr. Moorkens.

3) The Developer will implement each annual review of the management strategy as provided for in the Management Plan, the scope of this review being bound by the objective of maintaining the favourable conservation status of Vertigo angustior.

=====================

Re: 18 hole golf course, Ballynamudagh, Bray Co. Wicklow, Wicklow County Council ref no 98/9016


An Bord Pleanala

Irish Life Centre

Lower Abbey Street

Dublin 1

4th September 1999


Re: 18 hole golf course, Ballynamudagh, Bray Co. Wicklow, Wicklow County Council ref no 98/9016

Dear Sir,

We wish to appeal on behalf of Friends of the Irish Environment c/o Peter Sweetman, Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary, against the decision of Wicklow County Council to grant the above planning permission.

A material contravention for proposed development was passed by the members of Wicklow County Council. We submit that the advice given to the members by the County Engineer was inaccurate and misleading.

We refer to Sec 31 (1) of the County Management Act, 1940 dealing with the advisory functions of the Manager : -

" It shall be the duty of every county manager to advise and assist the council of his county and also every elective body for which he is manager in regard generally to the exercise or performance by them of their reserved functions and also in regard to any particular matter or thing in relation to such exercise or performance on or in respect of which such council or body requests the advice or assistance of such county manager."

This did not happen in this case as set out below.

The proposed development is fundamentally contrary to the objectives of the County Development Plan.

This proposed development could not be considered proper planning and development of the area for reasons stated in the reports of the planners.


¬? The report of Ms P. Griffin 14.6.99 recommending refusal.
¬? The report of Des O'Brien SEE dated 8/10/98 recommending refusal.
¬? The report of Ms. P Griffin dated 27/1/99 recommending refusal.
¬? Notes of County Engineer on Mr. Hooper's Report (which recommended refusal) recommending that Further Information be sought.
We quote from the report of 14.6.99 of Ms. P Griffin:

"A detailed and lengthy request for Further Information was issued on 12th October 1998. A reply was received on the 4th December. On assessment of this reply to the Further Information request refusal was recommended- see my reports of 27/1/99 and 28/1/99."

Nonetheless the proposed development has been assessed in light of the provisions of the new County Development Plan and the Rathdown No. 2 Plan and the shortcomings in the application as it stands have been outlined. In the event of a Material Contravention being approved and a decision being taken to grant permission for the proposed development a number of items remain to be addressed before a permission could be contemplated for the development as the information submitted to date is considered inadequate in a number of respects.

County Development Plan 1999 / Rathdown No. 2 District Plan 1999.

Since the application was lodged a new County Development Plan and a Rathdown District Plan have been adopted. The following sections are of particular importance.

Landscape Zones

Bray Head is located within the Landscape Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) northern hills. The ANOB zone encompasses "those areas which are most vulnerable and sensitive and which are considered considered of great scenic value" (section 1.3.8) The council will require the submission of a visual impact assessment where a planning application planning application is made for development in an AONB zone"

The existing landscape is characterised by the open nature of the FIEld, barren rock outcrops, the heathlands, the seasonal variations is colour and texture associated with the agricultural land use and mature belts and clusters of trees along the FIEld boundaries and scattered within the open FIElds. These are the landscape characteristics which are vulnerable and sensitive and which merit the area's designations as an AONB relative the character of the surrounding areas, as reflected and reinforced by the other policies and objectives of the County Development Plan and the Rathdown Plan which are outlined below."

We consider the most important points in this report are:

Tourism Land Use Matrix (section 3.11)

"This matrix indicates that Golf Courses are not permissible within the ANOB zone"

Listed views / Prospects

Ms. Griffin states:"Council policy in relation to views and prospects is outlined in section 3,3,14 of the County Development Plan - "The council will protect and preserve the prospects of special amenity value or special interest of national or regional significance listed in Schedule 4 and shown on map no 9"

"The prospect of Bray Head from the Southern Cross Route has been listed for preservation in the County Development Plan - Schedule 4 no 62. By virtue that the proposed development would radically alter the landscape character of western slopes of Bray Head between Bray and Windgates it would seriously diminish and detract from the quality of the prospect being viewed and would therefore materially contravene the objectives of the plan."

Section 3.5.8 Geological Areas of Scientific Intrest.

"Bray Head is listed in Schedule 10 as an area of Geological and Geomorphological interest. While the boundaries of the area of interests are not defined it could be argued that the replacement of the natural setting of the area of interest with a golf course would detract from the future protection/interpretation of the area - would need further study of the impacts."

We submit that the County Development Plan is materially contravened on this point.

Coastal Zone Management Plan - Appendix 7

"Council policy in relation to Bray Head is further clarified in section A7.2 - (1)"It is Council Policy to protect and enhance the views and scenic beauty of Bray Head" And (2) "The Council willconsider in conjunction with Bray Urban District Council, the making of a Special Amenity Area Order in respect of Bray Head…"

As outlined above it is considered that the proposed development would radically alter the landscape character of Bray Head and would therefore be contrary to the objective of protecting and enhancing the views and scenic beauty of the area.

Section 3,8,2 Development on Regional Roads.

"Proposed golf course development will generate consierable additional traffic on the heavily trafficked R761 at a location where sight lines are considered inadequate. Development would be contrary to the above policy"

Rathdown No. 2 District Plan

The planner list numerous observations under this plan. She sums up thus:

"All of the above point to the proposed development materially contravening the County Development Plan and the Rathdown No. 2 District Plan.

Inadequacies in application as stands to date:

Proposed ground levels.

"The extent of proposed changes in ground levels throught the site and particularly along the full road frontage of the site would need to be clarified.

Reservoir / water supply for irrigation.

No details of the design of the proposed reservoir, it's levels relative to existing ground levels etc. have been submitted. The corner of the site where the reservoir is to be located is very open in views from the roundabout and details of the reservoir are therefor very important.

No hydrological survey has been submitted to indicate feasibility of irrigating the golf course from rain water - it appears that it is not now proposed to have bore hole water supply and no supply is available from public main for irrigation purposes."

Bray Head is probably as dry that Howth Head, the driest place in Ireland. How much water will be required? Particularly in the early years. We submit that the rain water available will be totally inadequate.

As the Council appears to bend over backwards for this golf course, should they need water, we submit they will get it and the people of Bray will suffer.

Entrance /Sightlines

"It is now proposed to move the entrance further to the south and to remove 230m length of the existing road boundary fence, setting back the boundary by up to 10 , in order to achieve sightlines and create turning lane etc. - removal of trees/hedgerows will open up views of the clubhouse(local)form the regional road. The location of the existing travellers caravans located on the old section of road is not indicated on the drawings submitted and the developers right to encroach into this area of road is unclear. Furthermore the proposed sightlines are obstructed by overgrown landscaping between wall to the western side of the R761 and the road and by the wall itself.

Removal of theis vegiyation will expose an ugly wall and sightlines cannot be maintained unless vegitation is cut on a regular basis - is Wicklow County Council in a position to ensure this.

Encroachment on NHA

We find the position of Duchas here incredible, in the case of the golf course on Doonbeg Dunes, they have no objection to greens and fairways on what is the NHA and have allowed fairways on the habitat of a priority species.

Tree Planting

This planting will interfere with the Listed Views.

Tree Survey

The planner's report shows this to in total contrast to the design. It is not a basis an which planning permission should have been granted.

Public Access

This is totally unclear, in a proposed Special Amenity Area.

In her section " Items requiring further clarification"

Site layout map.

We submit that the granting of planning permission where the layout map has flaws or is unclear is an act "no reasonable person could come to".

Entrance

The proposals for the entrance are not defined.

Ground levels

The Planner found that the information supplied was not adequate for her to make a full assessment of the likely effects of the proposed development.

Water Supply

No evidence of the demand of the adequacy of the supply to service this development.

The developers in their letter received by Wicklow County Council on 4.12.98 state:

"The water supply to the golf course itself will be provided by rainwater gathered in a surface collection system. Details are provided elsewhere by the landscape specialist."

The developers have not told the Planning Authority where the water is being collected from, is it proposed to cover a whole area with plastic to collect water.

We submit that the rainwater from the roof of the clubhouse would be totally inadequate to service this golf course.

The grant of permission.

We submit that the conditioning of the permission to supply information which the planner deemed necessary to make an informed assessment as prior to commencement of development conditions is not in accord with either the principles or the letter of the planning acts and regulations.

For Example:

The trees are to be assessed prior to the commencement of development.

Tree management plan to be agreed prior to the commencement of development

Planting plan to be agreed prior to the commencement of development

The practice are to be redesigned and agreed prior to the commencement of development this is a funde=mtial planning matter and at the minimum it should be for approval.

A revised site layout map shall be agreed prior to the commencement of development A Planning application with out a proper site map does not conform with the regulations.

A Golf course management plan shall be agree prior to the commencement of development

A Wildlife management plan shall be agreed prior to the commencement of development, we failed to locate a wildlife survey on the file.

The proposed fencing is unsuitable and new fencing is to be agreed prior to the commencement of development.

The comprehensive hydrological and hydrogeological reports shall be submitted prior to the commencement of development .What if, as we expect, these reports show that the plan is not viable?

Condition 13 proves that permission should not have been granted.

It Reads "PRIOR TO THE COMMENCEMENT OF DEVELOPMENT a revised site layout map to a scale of 1:500 shall be submitted, for the written agreement of the Planning Authority, detailing the rout of the proposed public right of way along the northern site boundary, as detailed in the submission of the 17th June 1999. This right of way shall be a minimum of 2m in width, shall be provided in tandem with the development of the golf course and shall be available at all times for the use of the public.This right of way shall be double fenced with secure fencing, details of which shall be agreed under condition no, 9 herein.

We submit that what is required in this condition requires a separate application for planning permission, and cannot be conditioned as such.

It would appear that the public are going to be allowed to go down a high security walk with all views possibly blocked. All this in an area which the County Council are going to apply for a special amenity order.

Condition no 16 conditions the developer to use herbicides in an area which is protected by the County Development Plan.

Condition no 21 asks for the developer to submit the plans for the new entrance prior to the commencement of development, not in our opinion the proper way to plan an area.

Before we close this over long objection we wish to raise 2 further points.

1 We are not submitting an objection to the clubhouse, as we presume that if the golf course is not allowed the clubhouse will not be required.

We object in principle to developers splitting proposed developments in to parts so as to put further expense on to the public who wish to participate in the planning process.

2. The report of the County Engineer to the Members.

"As the proposal is for a golf course to be operated and managed by people from the Bray and general area and the membership is to be from this area also, the proposal should be considered as a recreational and amenity facility for this area rather than a tourist development, the use of which would come from a much wider area."

Planning permission has been granted to "Frenchpark Financial Services Ltd." C/o a Blanchardstown address.

There is no evidence that the developer is local to Bray, it is a limited company.

It can be sold to anybody at any time.

"The proposal also means that a present private commercial/agricultural use changes to the above recreational use with access to a wider range of local people and providing a public right of way access to wilderness/conservation land use to rear".

There is nothing in the planning files on which we submit that the county engineer could base this paragraph.

"The proposal does not by and large encroach on the wilderness/conservation land to rear. The use is not any less unique/special than the present Commercial/agricultural use of these lands. If anything the proposed use is more unique re Special Amenity Order.

Bray Head is by no stretch of anybody's imagination a wilderness. A wilderness is an area which has not been imprinted on by man.

There is no commercial use on these lands.

The remark "If anything the proposed use is more unique re Special Amenity Area Order" is completely opposite of the planner's views.

"There is at present a Local Authority Par 3 Golf Course on the Northern flank of Bray Head which creates a precedent for this proposal".

As far as we can ascertain it is pre 1994 and there is no relevance to this remark as there is no evidence in the planning file re this golf course.

We submit that the existence of an exempt development cannot create a precedent for a proposed development. We submit that the County Engineer misled the members on this matter.

"There is no evidence that this Par 3 Golf facility is having a detrimental affect (or more detrimental than agricultural use) on conservation of adjoining areas as far as I am aware.."

This issue has not been raised and is not one of the planners' concerns.

This remark is a red herring and has no place in an advice to the members when performing a reserved function.

Has the County Engineer done any research as to the affect? If so what is it?

"Visually, I do not consider that the proposal will have any detrimental affect and is compatible with the present visual aspect of the landscape."

The flies in the face of the County Development Plan and the advice of the planner. The County Development Plan does not permit Golf Courses in Areas of Outstanding Beauty. If a Golf Course is in this engineers mind with the present land use, we are speechless.

"The proposed Clubhouse can in my opinion be sited satisfactorily in the existing landscape particularly if appropriate screening is applied."

It is our submission that the requirement of appropriate screening for a development in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is the best argument for no development.

"The proposal will also set a green boundary to further building development pressures on this side (east) of the Bray/Greystones(Windgates) Road. There could well be further pressures for leisure, commercial tourist or community or even industrial development at this location and even further south. The proposal will tend to provide a belt that stops such development."

Is the County Engineer not aware of the contents of the County Development Plan? These remakes are outrageous as advice.

Conclusion.

This is a proposed development which should never have got off the drafting board. It is misconceived and a blatant flouting of a County Development Plan which was passed this summer.

What is the point of a County Development Plan if this sort of contravention is allowed to take place?.

The proposed development should be refused because it

Materially Contravenes the fundamental principals of the County Development Plan.

It is a misguided proposal which could not by any stretch of the imagination be considered proper planning and development of the area.