Stephen McGrath lodging a planning objection on behalf of ten local sea kayakers at the Tramore Civic Offices, Tankfield, yesterday; (inset) Mayor of Tramore Joe Conway, who supports the project.       Photo: Ciaran Connelly

Stephen McGrath lodging a planning objection on behalf of ten local sea kayakers at the Tramore Civic Offices, Tankfield, yesterday; (inset) Mayor of Tramore Joe Conway, who supports the project. Photo: Ciaran Connelly

Mayor of Tramore Joe Conway claims there is widespread support for the Garrarus golf project. He says so in a submission to Waterford County Council’s Planning Department, which is assessing an application for permission for the development.

However, by yesterday’s deadline for the receipt of submissions over 200 had been lodged with the planning authority, most of them within the previous 72 hours.

Una Keely, spokesperson for the Garrarus Concerned Residents group, says the project will be “of limited benefit to a limited number of people” in that it will be a “gated, exclusive” resort, not for the average person who visits Tramore or its environs. The promise of 150 jobs doesn’t counterbalance the sacrifice of this unspoilt stretch of coastline, she adds.

Fellow objector Frances Walsh says what Islandikane Developments Ltd are proposing “is in effect a cluster of housing estates, a hotel which is almost the same height as the Metalman, a courtyard of apartments, equal in size to the whole Croke Park complex, a leisure centre and clubhouse – all in one of the most scenic and unspoilt parts of the Waterford coastline which is protected as a Special Preservation Area by an EU Directive.

 

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“There is also a Promontory Fort in this area which is protected by Irish Law. Furthermore this area is also a National Heritage Area, where no development should take place. This development will be clearly visible from all roads leading to it, and will certainly be visible from Garrarus Strand.”

As a resident of Garrarus, she is adamant that the promoters “do not enjoy the support of the residents who live local to this development.”

Positive

However, Cllr Conway says the resort of Tramore is on the rise following a period of closure, failure and a forlorn sense of neglect and he believes the Garrarus scheme should proceed in order to further the economic regeneration of the town, in terms of employment and commercial inflow.

He goes on: “It would positively address the market high-end deficit to which the town has traditionally fallen victim, and such a signal development would give Tramore and surrounds high profile on an international stage, with the Nicklaus design and imprimatur.

“In this, we might consider what Valderama was before the world-class course was positioned there. Or the Carolinas…dying economically a quarter of a century ago because of the slow demise of the tobacco industry, but now with new prosperity from a multi-billion dollar golf product.

“In any golf course I have experienced, there is a resonance and respect for environment and habitat. I could cite just a few such beautiful entities as Ballybunion, Lahinch, Enniscrone, the Barrow in Tralee (hugging the beautiful and lonely Banna Strand), Royal Portrush, and Ballinacourty/Gold Coast and Dunmore East in our own fair county.

“None of them would stand convicted of desecrating the landscape, and there are hundreds of such courses bedecking the shores of these islands. And, as for the preservation of nature, the one and only time I espied an otter in Ireland was on the banks of the Shannon when I was on Athlone Golf Club. In perspective, this development (08/55) would have a two per cent physical impact on the Waterford coastline – occupying 3km of a total count on coastline of 145km.

“In the serious matter of environmental protection, I might quote from the acknowledged world expert on course development, Dr. Anne Leslie. In her book “Handbook of Integrated Pest Management for Turf and Ornamentals” [1994], she addresses this whole issue of Integrated Control of Habitat: ‘Obviously, environmental protection costs money which can often mount up to millions of dollars, but I am not aware of any objection to golf courses that cannot be answered or mitigated with existing scientific data, except in extremely fragile or rare sites…'”.

Mayor Conway believes the Garrarus development should thus be accorded permission, with due conditionality attending habitat, infrastructure and the environment. If so allowed, he reckons it will make a significant contribution to Tramore’s commercial regeneration and ensuing employment.

“With such an embedding of local employment and regeneration, it would in fact contribute strongly towards reducing the carbon footprint of the town. Car usage and movement would decrease, and would help to reduce the town’s unenviable status of being – after Navan and Carrigaline – the third most car-dependent town in Ireland”.

Whatever the outcome of the County Council’s deliberations (a decision is due by Good Friday, March 20) it’s almost certain that the application will end up as an appeal before An Bord Pleanala.