Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Course developed at a snail's pace

US tycoon Donald Trump arrives at Shannon Airport to visit the Doonbeg course after he got the go-ahead from council chiefs to shore up the famous 14th green on the course

US tycoon Donald Trump has said he will invest up to 45 million euro in a renowned storm-ravaged golf course he bought in the west of Ireland.

The property mogul - on a three day visit to inspect the Doonbeg links in Co Clare - said he would redevelop the protected dunes in an environmentally sensitive way amid concerns for a microscopic snail.

Mr Trump said he would double or triple his initial 15 million euro investment in Doonbeg - secured earlier this year at a knockdown price after financial trouble and severe erosion saw the asking price slump.

The billionaire New Yorker said he plans on creating a golf circuit from the Greg Norman designed Co Clare course, to the Open Championship course at Turnberry and on to his resort on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.

"Turnberry will be part of the Trump Triangle as we call it. And the other is my course in Aberdeen - literally a straight line from here to Turnberry and on to Aberdeen," he said.

"We are already in contract for an incredible helicopter that will connect the three dots with guests and we think that is going to be a tremendous amount of business."

Mr Trump said hundreds of jobs will be created through his investment in Ireland.

"I don't have enough time left to do the boring ones," he said.

"This is one of those that is going to be truly iconic. This is going to be one that Ireland is going to be extremely proud of."

The businessman flew in to Shannon Airport on his Boeing 757 jet emblazoned with the logo of Trump International along with his sons Donald Jnr and Eric and daughter Ivanka.

He was met at the airport by Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Clare Mayor Joe Arkins and other officials.

Mr Trump said he has been contacted by organisers of the Irish Open and European Tour bosses to discuss holding tournaments at Doonbeg.

After initially being served with a stop work order, the tycoon last week got the go-ahead for protective works on dunes on the course, now known as the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland.

He is also preparing to apply for permission to put in boulders to act as breakwaters in a bid to prevent further erosion of dunes, swathes of which were devastated in winter storms.

"It was a 200-year storm, you all know better than myself, people who were here said they have never seen anything like it," Mr Trump said.

"Ideally that won't happen again. But it was a lot of damage but without that damage I would not be standing here right now, it was one of the reasons I was able to get it."

Doonbeg, a renowned beauty spot on the Co Clare coast, is protected by strict environmental concerns for a microscopic snail which has been around since the Ice Age - the narrow-mouth whorl snail, or vertigo angustior, which measures about 0.9mm wide and 1.8mm in height.

Trump has said he will work with environmental experts in any redevelopment.

"The snail issue is an issue that will roll on and one that we will be very protective of," he said.

"It's a special piece of land and we are going to do it in a very, very special way and we are going to do it in a very environmentally sensitive way. It's very important to us."

Mr Trump has hired golf course designer Martin Hawtree to work on Doonbeg.

Repair work will take place over the three months with further redevelopment planned for the next year.

"It did suffer greatly but most of that has been repaired at a much higher level than it was before," he said.

Mr Trump also praised council chiefs who he said had "killed" plans for an offshore wind farm in sight of the golf course.

Mr Trump announced his investment in Turnberry last month and has vowed not to touch the course without the consent of golf's ruling body the Royal & Ancient.

He has been embroiled in bitter disputes over redevelopment of the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire and plans for a wind farm visible from a course on the coast.

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