UNESCO in call to halt NI golf resort development

Friday 24 May 2013 19.38
The Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland's only world heritage site
The Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland's only world heritage site

The UN's world heritage agency UNESCO has called for a halt to plans to build a controversial £100 million (€116m) golf resort near the Giant's Causeway in Co Antrim.

The Bushmills Dunes resort will include a five-star hotel, spa and 75 golf lodges as well as a links course.

The project, which could create 360 jobs, was strongly opposed by the National Trust, which runs the Giant's Causeway on the north Antrim coast.

Earlier this year, the Belfast High Court threw out a legal challenge from the National Trust against the development.

The UNESCO report said the planned resort, 550 metres from the Giant's Causeway, would create an irreversible change of landscape character in a protected area of outstanding natural beauty.

The Giant's Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only world heritage site.

The report also said the development should not be permitted in its proposed scale and location.

Stormont Environment Minister Alex Attwood, who approved the resort plan, has said he would not be changing the decision.

He said his decision had been upheld by the High Court, which had rejected all 21 grounds of legal challenge made by the National Trust.

Speaking to RTÉ's News at One, Mr Attwood said plans to build the resort were "legitimate and proper" and that the resort is badly needed in order to boost tourism in Northern Ireland.

He rejected suggestions that the resort may interfere with the Giant's Causeway site, saying that it will be built "a considerable distance from the stones themselves and outside the designated area known as the world heritage site".

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