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National Trust spared bill for Giant's Causeway legal challenge

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Runkerry Development is a proposed world class golf resort consisting of a 120 rooms International Hotel, 75 Guest Suites, an 18 hole linked Golf Course, a Golf Academy and ancilliary facilities. Currently, awaiting planning approval, it is the first major eco-sustainable hotel and leisure resort in Northern Ireland

DONT USE BIGGER THAN 2 COLUMNS PLEASE... Runkerry Development is a proposed world class golf resort consisting of a 120 rooms International Hotel, 75 Guest Suites, an 18 hole linked Golf Course, a Golf Academy and ancilliary facilities. Currently, awaiting planning approval, it is the first major eco-sustainable hotel and leisure resort in Northern Ireland

©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 21st February 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.  Department of the Environment announce plans to build Bushmills Dunes Golf Resort which will establish the north coast as world-acknowledged Gold Standard.  The first golf links course to be built in Northern Ireland for almost one hundred years has been given the green light by Minister Alex Attwood.  The £100m project will create 360 jobs and will be located outside the village of Bushmills.  General views of the land where the resort will be built with the Causeway Hotel in the background.

©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 21st February 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Department of the Environment announce plans to build Bushmills Dunes Golf Resort which will establish the north coast as world-acknowledged Gold Standard. The first golf links course to be built in Northern Ireland for almost one hundred years has been given the green light by Minister Alex Attwood. The £100m project will create 360 jobs and will be located outside the village of Bushmills. General views of the land where the resort will be built with the Causeway Hotel in the background.

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DONT USE BIGGER THAN 2 COLUMNS PLEASE... Runkerry Development is a proposed world class golf resort consisting of a 120 rooms International Hotel, 75 Guest Suites, an 18 hole linked Golf Course, a Golf Academy and ancilliary facilities. Currently, awaiting planning approval, it is the first major eco-sustainable hotel and leisure resort in Northern Ireland

The National Trust was today spared from having to foot the full legal bill for its failed bid to block a £100 million golf resort near the Giant's Causeway.

As counsel for the charity confirmed there are no plans to appeal the ruling, a judge at the High Court refused the Department of the Environment's bid to be awarded costs.

His ruling means both sides will pay their own legal expenses in a case where sources predicted the fees will run into six figures.

In February the court rejected all grounds of challenge to Environment Minister Alex Attwood's decision to grant planning permission for the scheme.

The verdict cleared the way for a championship links golf course, five-star 120 bedroom hotel and 75 villas at Runkerry near Bushmills, Co Antrim.

Developers say the proposed resort will create around 360 jobs and a further 300 through suppliers and construction.

Lawyers for the Trust had attempted to stop the development because of its proximity to the Causeway stones, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

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They argued that Mr Attwood acted unreasonably and irrationally in giving the green light for the resort last year, and claimed proper consultation was not carried out.

But Mr Justice Weatherup backed a counter submission by the Department of the Environment that world heritage convention guidelines have no standing in UK law.

The row has continued since the ruling, with a report for the United Nations cultural body, Unesco, calling for a halt to the plans.

It said the planned Runkerry development would have an adverse impact on the world heritage site.

In court today counsel for the Department applied for a costs award.

But the Trust's barrister, Stewart Beattie QC, urged the judge not to make such an order due to his client's charity status and the general importance of issues raised in the case.

He said: "The judgment has certainly been seminal in terms of people's understanding not only of Unesco but of the wider process of public consultation."

Asked about the position on any appeal, Mr Beattie indicated there were no plans at this stage.

Refusing to Department's application, Mr Justice Weatherup said: "I remain of the view that the proper order, for reasons that I have given in relation to the public interest, is that there should be no order as to costs."


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