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Causeway golf plans should not be pushed off course

The intervention of Unesco in the Runkerry golfing development has prompted the question: 'Would you rather have the development or lose World Heritage status for the Giant's Causeway?"

Undoubtedly, we would like to keep it.

Heritage status is a recognition of the beauty and significance of the causeway. Yet the bottom line is that it is valued as a means of marketing the place for visitors and for enabling locals to live and work there.

A good golf course a few miles away will help with that process, not hinder it; a golf course does not pollute, or poison, anything. It sculpts the landscape while preserving its greenery and contours. It offers both pleasure and prosperity to human beings whose heritage it is.

The landscape three miles away from the causeway is not unchanged from time immemorial, like the stones themselves. It was once forest and was impassable in the 18th century, when Dr Johnson could only reach the causeway by sea.

Many places which, just like the causeway, charm and enthral visitors with their unique natural features are not World Heritage sites so far. In Ireland alone, the Lakes of Killarney and of Fermanagh, the Burren, the Marble Arch caves and the Cliffs of Moher are prime examples.

So, after 10 years of planning discussions, we shouldn't be easily pushed off course on this valuable project.