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Petition succeeds as County Clare surf spot is saved


Advocates for Doughmore Beach earned a symbolic victory after news broke that an application to build a giant seawall was withdrawn.

You may remember a great deal of hubbub a few months back when a Trump-owned golf course in County Clare, Ireland, proposed building a massive seawall along Doughmore Beach. The plan was to prop up parts of the golf course threatened by erosion and rising seas with a 2-mile long rock seawall. Problem was, to local surfers and environmentalists, the proposed seawall threatened traditional sand movement patterns and had the potential to destroy a well-surfed sandbar at Doughmore. Lots of local residents were also worried that the wall would permanently scar the beach.

In an incomprehensible bit of irony, the Trump team’s application for the seawall referenced protecting the property from potential issues from rising seas, even as presidential candidate Trump routinely called climate change a “hoax” (The mind reels).

Even so, hundreds of locals are employed at the course, and they in turn were concerned that if the wall didn’t get built, the course would close and they’d lose their jobs. Trump is pretty popular in County Clare circles after bringing employment and tourist cash to an off-the-beaten path part of Ireland that can struggle financially.

Groups like Save The Waves began circulating a petition to put pressure on County Clare administrators to deny permission for the Trump International course to build the wall. Over 100,000 people signed the petition, in Ireland and internationally. The effort paid off when last week, it was announced, according to Yahoo News, that the application for the sea wall “was withdrawn by the applicant.”

Irish charger Fergal Smith called the decision a “victory for common sense.”

A sort of compromise was struck, and a much smaller, less intrusive wall be be built, and two holes of the golf course will be moved further from the sea.

I checked in with Nick Mucha from Save The Waves who helped spearhead this campaign. Here’s what he had to say:

“This is a rare and inspiring example of many people working together to overcome the long odds. Trump’s decision to walk away from the seawall proposal is a huge milestone for the #NatureTrumpsWalls campaign. I hope that the surf community takes note that if we work together for the things that we hold dear, we can have a meaningful impact. However, our work continues as we must analyze the next series of proposals and ensure they do not pose any risk to the unique coastal resources of Doughmore Beach.”

Love it or hate it, the incoming Trump administration is about to test the resolve of environmentally-conscious surfers across the U.S., and, potentially, as the Irish case shows, internationally too. Efforts to save Doughmore Beach show that concentrated action by a committed group of surfers and activists can, believe it or not, affect change when you might otherwise least expect it.









Donald Trump’s proposed 3 km sea wall at his International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland in Doonbeg, Co, Clare, has been scrapped, according to new plans revealed last night.


At the opening of the Public Consultation on revised plans for Donald Trump’s coastal defences at Doonbeg County Clare last night new plans were put on public display that showed that permission to construct a continuous 2.8 kilometre wall has been abandoned.


According to those who attended last night’s Public Consultation, held at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland in Doonbeg, a new planning permission is to be submitted shortly which will propose sheet metal piling and rock armour for 650 metres at one end and 200 metres at the other end of the dune system. Two holes will be relocated inland.


Save the Waves, who sponsored a petition that now has more than 100,000 signatures opposed to the original Wall, called it a ‘Good News Story’. Director of Programmes Nick Mucha said that ‘This is a defining milestone for the campaign. It demonstrates the power of the international community to protect our coasts. Save the Waves and its Irish partners will continue to monitor the new proposals and remain engaged to guide them towards a responsible solution, but today more than 100,000 people can celebrate the fact that the original ill-conceived sea wall proposal has been scrapped.’


‘The threat of Trump’s Irish wall has hung over Doonbeg like a dark cloud for more than two years’, FIE Director Tony Lowes said. ‘There is no doubt the original proposal would have stopped the development of the dune system and scoured the beach, leading to a loss of one of the finest amenities on the west coast. While the sense of relief today is enormous – as is our gratitude to the international community- the current proposal will require detailed analysis in terms of the Conservation Objectives – and the impact on the protected snail – before we can comment on it.’


Leading Irish Surfer Fergal Smith, who attended the Public Information Day, said ‘There has been a serious re think on the original wall which is good to see. It's still a wall which is always a concern so it's important to keep a close eye developments.’



Contacts: Tony Lowes Friends of the Irish Environment 353 (0)27 74771


Nick Mucha, Save the Waves 001 831-345-4837


Save The Waves is working alongside prominent Irish and European environmental and surfing groups to defeat Mr. Trump’s proposal. The coalition of organizations includes Surfrider Foundation Europe, Friends of The Irish Environment, Irish Surfing Association, West Coast Surf Club, Friends of The Earth Ireland, and the Irish Seal Sanctuary.



1 APRIL, 2016





Following on last night’s Irish National television programme ‘Prime Time Investigates’ on Donald Trump’s proposed wall at his Doonbeg sea side golf course, the environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment [FIE] have launched an international campaign to stop the proposed construction of a 3 km hard coastal defence of quarried limestone rocks up to-5 meters above beach level and 15 metres wide. The group has also reported the organisation for holding and covering up an unauthorised dump and damaging the protected dunes.



The import of lorries of rock limestone to construct this coastal defence without permission was the subject of an enforcement order by Parks and Wildlife Service on 21 February, 2014. The developer claimed that ‘the asset and business is in a state of emergency’ due to the ‘catastrophic nature of the storm damage’, stating that the course is now ‘incredibly dangerous’ and threatening to hold the Department liable for ‘resulting damages and or loss to property, including lost income, business, and the livelihood of our many great employees’. A meeting with Parks and Wildlife and a subsequent discussion with the Minister [Jimmy Dennihan] ‘seems to have had the desired effect’, according to records released to FIE by the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht. The Trump Organisation agreed to apply for the current planning permission.



FIE Director Tony Lowes says that the proposed wall will prevent the natural dynamics of the remaining dune system from functioning. ‘From the nature conservation point of view, a rock armoured wall on a dune system is a lose lose proposition. The dunes lose because the embryonic dunes forming above the tideline are prevented from developing into mobile dunes by the construction of a wall between them and the rest of the dune system. At the same time, the wall will fossilise the high dunes so the natural nourishment of the beach by the preferential erosion of the dunes is prevented from reaching it, leading to a deepening of the beach which will be made worse by the loss of sand from cross and long shore drift created by the structure.’

The group says the 2014 legally binding Conservation Objective for Doonbeg (which are also included in the Draft Clare Development Plan), require the operators ‘to maintain the natural circulation of sediment and organic matter throughout the entire dune system, without any physical obstructions,’ concluding ‘there shall be no constructions permitted anywhere in the dune system’. If constructed, FIE says Ireland ‘would inevitable see prosecution by the European Commission, potentially costing the taxpayer – not Mr. Trump -  between €25,000 and €30,000 in fines.’


The group has also provided photographs to Clare County Council and the EPA of the illegal dump exposed by dune erosion and shown in Prime Time last night. ‘In the 10 days between Prime Time’s filming and our own site visit, it appears that the waste material has been covered up and the dune crest pulled down on top of it. This dump should have been reported to the authorities and investigated to determine what was the best approach to protect the environment from further damage. Instead, it was hastily hidden, causing more damage to the dune system.’


It has also reported littering along the beach caused by the failure of the golf course’s dune protection, including metal poles and concrete footings which it says should have been removed from the public beach. ‘The state of the dunes is shocking, littered with failed fences, their metal poles, chunks of concrete and rubbish. Mr. Trump has turned a great dune system into a slum.’



In a letter to National Parks and Wildlife Service, FIE alleges that drainage pipes highlighted by photographs require the Department’s consent as they could threaten the tiny snail, Vertigo angustior, which was at the heart of the settlement of the 2000 Judicial Review. Under a Management Plan, it has thrived and grown to a colony of more than 300m with unique annual records detailing vegetation and groundwater levels.

FIE also asks if the current widespread use of now rotting massive straw bales to try and stop the sand encroaching on the course are a source of nutrients which will impact on the vegetation and if they are in fact ‘worse for the dunes than even past poor farming practices’ as well as increasing the load on the dune crests, accelerating erosion.



The group had also published on its website the original letter 1995 from the Parks and Wildlife Service to Shannon Development, who were applying to draw down an EU £2.2m EU grant for the original golf course developers. The letter states that the NPWS would ‘strongly object’ to the development of a golf course on the intact areas of the dune system because ‘it would destroy the ecological and conservation value of the site’. ‘Only the degraded area at the eastern side of the system’, the letter concluded, ‘should be included in the proposed golf course, as the dune system was of ‘international conservation value’.

An affidavit of Dr. Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington of NUI Galway from the 2000 Judicial Review, stating that there was no justification for the reduction of the boundaries of the protected area which permitted the golf course to proceed.

‘The failure of the NPWS to maintain their position 20 years ago has led to the present impasse. If there is a lesson to be had from the history of Doonbeg, it is that the science will always get you in the end.’



English language: : Tony Lowes 353 (0) 872176316  Office: 353 (0) 27 74771 /

Irish Language: Daithí Ó hÉalaithe 353 (0)87 6178852


Campaign poster   |   Site Report   |   Letter Reporting to Council   |   Letter Reporting to National Parks and Wildlife Service   |  1995 Letter refusing permission   |   Skeffington Affidavit 2000


RTE Prime Time (See also ‘RTE player’)


YOU’VE BEEN TRUMPED – the shocking documentary on Trumps Scottish golf course development

‘You’ve been Trumped’





More than 95,000 signatures from all over the world so far are supporting an international campaign to defeat the controversial Irish seawall proposal by U.S. Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. The campaign directs people to sign the online petition, urging Clare County Councilors to reject the seawall proposal at Doughmore Beach that would limit access, and destroy the surf break and pristine dune ecosystem.


#NatureTrumpsWalls is an international campaign to defeat the controversial Irish seawall proposal by U.S. Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. The campaign directs people to sign the online petition, urging Clare County Councilors to reject the seawall proposal at Doughmore Beach that would limit access, and destroy the surf break and pristine dune ecosystem.


FIE Director Tony Lowes welcomed the campaign. ‘Save the Waves work in partnership with local communities, organizations, governments, and businesses to ensure that coastlines are cherished and protected. We are delighted that they are bringing the threat to one of our finest dune systems to worldwide attention.’


Donald Trump and his hotel company, Trump International Golf Links (TIGL), seek to build a massively controversial seawall on a public beach to protect his Trump Golf Resort in western Ireland. The proposed wall on Doughmore Beach would run 2.8 kilometers, reach 15 feet tall, and consist of 200,000 tons of rock dumped in a sensitive coastal sand dune system.  Doughmore beach is one of western Irelands most consistent surfing spots and widely popular with a deep community of surfers and beachgoers. Construction of this seawall will destroy the sand dune habitat, restrict public access, negatively impact the quality of the surfing waves, and ultimately result in beach loss.


Trump’s golf course is built along a picturesque sand dune system known as Carrowmore Dunes; a renowned ecological treasure that has been named a ‘Special Area of Conservation’ by the European Union Special Habitats Directive. In all, 31 acres of pristine sand dunes are legally protected and the system provides a unique habitat for the rare prehistoric snail, the vertigo anguistor. The sand dunes play a critically important role for Doughmore Beach as they contribute the sand supply for the wide, popular beach and create the offshore sandbars that make Doughmore Beach a consistently fun surf spot.


After a series of winter storms in February 2014, Donald Trump began to illegally dump boulders along the public beach at Doughmore without any permits to protect his golf course. Enraged local authorities quickly intervened and Trump was forced to cease his illegal revetment and is now required to obtain the legal permission. Trump has grown incensed that he needs to comply with the local planning regulations and has threatened to close the golf resort if his permit is not approved.


Trump sought special permission from the Irish national government for the wall in March but was rejected in April. The local Clare County Council is now the responsible agency deciding the fate of Doughmore Beach. They have reviewed Trump’s permit application and Environmental Impact Statement and have sent a Request for Further Information outlining 51 specific points that they want resolved or clarified. Trump has until December 2016 to submit the requested information. At that point, the Clare County Council will make a decision. All sides expect any council decision to be appealed, a process that will last several months more.


FIE is pleased to be working alongside these prominent environmental and surfing groups to defeat Mr. Trump’s proposal. The coalition of organizations includes Save The Waves Coalition, Surfrider Foundation Europe, Friends of The Irish Environment, Irish Surfing Association, West Coast Surf Club, Friends of The Earth Ireland, and the Irish Seal Sanctuary.


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Contact: Tony Lowes 353 27 74771    353 87 2176316


September 14, 2016



Updated October 18, 2016