National Trust bid to block £100m golf resort at Giant's Causeway
The National Trust is going to the High Court today in a bid to block the development of a £100 million golf resort near the famous Giant's Causeway on Northern Ireland's North Coast.
Legal representatives will challenge a decision by the Department of the Environment which gave the go-ahead for the Bushmills Dunes project. The judicial review is expected to last three days.
The National Trust (NT) claims the building of the championship course, luxury hotel and garden residences about a mile-and-a-half from the Causeway could have a huge environmental impact on one of Northern Ireland's top tourist attractions, which is also a World Heritage Site.
Developers involved in the proposed Bushmills Dunes Golf Resort & Spa, outside the village of Bushmills, Co Antrim, claim it will create approximately 360 direct jobs and an estimated further 300 ancillary jobs through suppliers and construction.
The original plans were first submitted more than a decade ago, but the National Trust has resisted the proposal and last year sought a High Court judicial review after the Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood gave the all-clear for work to start.
The investment and advisory team is led by US-based Northern Ireland man Dr Alistair Hanna, who claims the course and hotel could be ready by June 2015 if the High Court overrules the objections.
Dr Hanna said: "The location of the resort is more sensitively appropriate than much of what the NT itself has seen fit to build within the confines of the World Heritage Site. The buildings are 1.5 miles from the Causeway, will be totally invisible to it and will provide a place for visitors to stay in a five-star resort with lots of activities to keep them in the area.
"Northern Ireland's tourist numbers are the worst in the UK and Ireland. Wales has more visitors. We need this resort desperately to boost tourism numbers and spend. The average visitor to NI spends £32 a day, the average golf visitor in Ireland pays £400."