Disagreement on how to manage and protect the Cliffs of Moher a natural resource and tourist destination.

The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most popular tourist attractions bringing a large volume of visitors to the region in County Clare. The cliffs attract 750,000 visitors each year. However, facilities at the cliffs are inadequate to deal with the large number of visitors.

Clare County Council have unveiled a €20 million plan to construct a large scale visitor centre to include a restaurant, a shop, toilets and better viewing facilities. They say the development would be environmentally sound and built back into the cliff hill.

Shannon Development, which is the tourism development agency in the region is objecting to a plan and say the development could damage the environmentally sensitive landscape of the cliffs. Shannon Development have unveiled alternative plans which would do away with the building and car park and to provide shuttle bus park and ride facilities from nearby villages. Tourist shops, cafés and toilet facilities could be provided in these villages.

John King, Tourism and Heritage Director at Shannon Development explains the thinking behind their plans.

You move your main infrastructure and buildings away from your natural assets so you protect your asset, you improve the local economy and give the visitor a better overall experience.

Large uncontrolled crowds at the cliffs is already causing erosion as well as being a danger to visitor safety.

Landscape Architect Gordon Clarke says that at the moment the site is a free-for-all which can result in dangerous behaviour.

Shannon Development have requested an oral hearing into their objections to the plans set out by Clare County Council.

The best way of managing and protecting one of our most spectacular national and natural resources now lies with An Bord Pleanala.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 19 February 2002. The reporter is Cathy Halloran.