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Do finances of Bushmills plan really add up?

I am surprised Environment Minister Alex Attwood was able to approve the hotel and golf complex at Bushmills (News, February 22).

No evidence was offered as to how the numerous environmental, heritage and viability issues were satisfied.

Those are some of the concerns to be addressed. I will limit my comments to financial matters.

At present, we have the Lough Erne Resort, with a luxury hotel, golf course, Nick Faldo Academy and housing. This development is currently in administration with a debt in the region of £24m to bankers/investment bankers.

I question how a proposed development of a luxury hotel, golf academy, 27 golf holes and 75 houses at Bushmills at a reported cost of £100m can be viable.

A calculation of the individual costs would indicate expenditure in the region of £30m. The promoter states that he has lined up American investment bankers who will arrange the funding.

What financial return is to be earned on the £30m - or even on the publicised £100m?

The promoter, in a TV interview, stated tourists would be at the top end of the market and quoted, among other destinations, Celtic Manor in Wales, not a links course, but failed to mention Cameron House in Scotland.

I sincerely hope that the business plan has been deeply scrutinised and the assumptions financially tested.


Holywood, Co Down

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