Global Edition

Trespassers damage Doonbeg dunes

10.00am 27th December 2002 - Management Topics

Doonbeg Golf Club has filed suit with the High Court in Dublin against a number of individuals who have repeatedly driven tractors and other vehicles across private property, damaging the golf club’s fairways and the grey dunes which are within a specially designated candidate Area of Conservation along Doughmore Bay.

After repeated attempts to persuade these individuals to cease their destructive activity without filing suit, Doonbeg Golf Club felt it was left with no other course of action but to pursue the matter in court. The Club is seeking a Declaratory Judgment Action to end the vehicular damage and usage.

Leonard Long, executive vice president of Doonbeg Golf Club, issued the following comments regarding the case:

“It is with great reluctance that Doonbeg Golf Club has decided to initiate this action in the High Court in relation to what is a small group of five or six individuals. Over the past two years these individuals have asserted that they have a “right” to drive vehicles, such as tractors, across the Doonbeg Golf Club course near where the Caherfeenick Road ends beside the fifth fairway.

“Those driving on the golf course are trespassing. They have no right to drive across the Golf Club’s land which is private property. In driving vehicles in this very sensitive area continuous damage is being done both to the environment and to the golf club fairways.

“Over the past two years we have made strenuous efforts to resolve the matter amicably. Unfortunately assurances in relation to not driving vehicles across the golf course have not been given, and we have been left with no alternative but to have the matter resolved in court.

“In developing the course at Doonbeg, which is economically revitalising the area in many ways, we have been ever mindful to ensure that permanent adequate access to the beach is provided. For vehicular access we have invested over €500,000 in providing a new and better road and car parking on Mountrivers Road which leads down to the shore.

“When we completed the road it was then given to County Clare. We have also continued to provide pedestrian access where the Caherfeenick Road ends on the edge of our golf course property. Our intention has not been to restrict pedestrian access at either point, although we do not recommend using such access during golf play for obvious reasons of safety.

“There are a number of reasons why vehicular access is neither acceptable nor desirable by leaving Caherfeenick Road and driving across the golf course. The most important of these is the damage done to the fragile grey dune environment, which has been designated as a candidate Special Area of Conservation under the Habitats Directive of the European Union. By law, and also by our contractual agreement with Duchas, we are required not to use this area at all.

“Secondly, vehicles can cause major damage to the habitat of’Vertigo Angustior’, the endangered species of snail, the habitat of which we are obliged to protect. In addition to these reasons, such access is causing other damage to the course which is not acceptable. Finally it is also highly irresponsible and not safe for vehicles to be present when and where golf is being played.

“It has been suggested that the Club is seeking to prevent these several individuals from taking sand or seaweed from the seashore. This is simply untrue. Anyone wishing to access the seashore may, however, do so via the Mountrivers Road, which is paved all the way to the shore and beach sand area. Our reason for building this new road was for the public to be provided permanent safe beach access.

“Doonbeg Golf Club would still wish for the matter to be resolved amicably but any permanent resolution must include an undertaking that vehicles will no longer be driven onto the course. Such an outcome is in the interests of everyone — the environmentalists, the golfers, and the Doonbeg community as a whole which benefits from the economic stimulus provided by Doonbeg Golf Club.

For further information please contact: Roddy Guiney, WHPR

Tel: 087 2523095 (M) or Int + 353 (0)1 839 3744 (H)

Doonbeg Golf Club

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