On Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 An Bord Pleanála held an oral hearing in County Clare for the Doolin Pier planning application and the associated Environmental Impact Statement. An Bord Pleanála is an "independent national body who presides over decisions in an impartial, efficient and open manner, to ensure that physical development and major infrastructure projects in Ireland respect the principles of sustainable development, including the protection of the environment."
Specifically, this hearing was called to give space for comments and study results relating to the changes in sediment flow and hydrodynamics that may result from the building of a new pier near the surfing waves of Crab Island and Doolin Point. The West Coast Surf Club and the Irish Surf Association used this opportunity to present opinions from several expert witnesses, notably Dr. Shaw Mead, on the lack of critical information in the Environmental Impact Statement presented by the County Clare. Dr. Shaw Mead's opening remarks summed up the feelings of many:
“On the whole, while the correct tools have been used for the assessment, there are some fundamental issues that undermine confidence with respect to the influence of the development on Crab Island, Ballaghaline Point and the surfer’s access area, and definitely do not indicate that impacts will be insignificant.”
Worth noting in this matter is the fact that neither the WCSC nor ISA are against a new pier or upgraded pier at Doolin Point, however they feel strongly that the development must not be completed at the expense of the world class surf breaks. Dr. Mead again offered expert testimony supporting these hopes:
"There is no doubt that wave and current patterns will be modified by the construction of the proposed pier – what needs to be addressed is whether or not these impacts will cause negative impacts to the existing natural surfing amenity, and if so, how can they be avoided, mitigated or remedied while still providing suitable new boat access. Similarly, I expect that a new pier can be designed that does not have any negative impacts on existing amenities".
After hearing testimony from both sides the board (An Bord Pleanála) must step away and make a decision on the future of this project. There are a few possible outcomes for this proceeding:
1. Refuse permission for the proposed development.
2. Request further information and data before making a decision.
3. Grant permission with conditions.
No decision has yet been reached.
For more information on the history of this ongoing campaign to save the world class waves of Crab Island and Doolin Point, click here.
You can also click here, for more information on this ongoing campaign from Surf Around Ireland website.