PLANS for the development of a community-owned pier are in stalemate, as a cash-strapped local authority does not have the funds to pay for a report that would allow the community to access Government funding.

Doonbeg Community Development and the Doonbeg Fisherman’s Association have spend years working on plans to develop Doonbeg Pier but have now been told a change in the planning process and the inability of the council to pay for a €40,000 EPA report means their plans of developing tourism and the fishing industry can go no further.

The Doonbeg Pier was constructed in 1995, and was later extended by 35 metres.

Hundred thousand euro plans were then drawn up that would extend the capacity of the pier to allow boats to moor at high and low tide.

These plans to dredge the inner harbour, build a protective breakwater, which would protect Doonmore Tower House, reclaim the shore space and construct a larger slip way received planning approval from Clare County Council in 2007.

Shortly afterwards a foreshore lease application was submitted to the Department of the Environment but no conclusion was reached.

While the lease application gathered dust in government offices planning legislation changed, which meant that the planning permission granted in 2007 became null and void.

It was then recommended that the planning process would have to begin again.

In a letter to TDs senior engineer with Clare County Council Tom Tiernan said, “A new application would more than likely have to be submitted to An Bord Pleanala and there are significant costs involved with the preparation of such an application and the fee which would have to be paid in association with same – €40,000 to €50,000 is my best estimate. Clare County Council doesn’t have resources at its disposal to pursue this.”

An allocation in 2008 of €525,000 from the Minister for Agriculture for the project also cannot be allocated until full planning permission is granted.

Tommy Commerford, PRO of the Doonbeg Fishermans Association, said that the current Minister or Agriculture, Simon Covney, has also reassured the community of his financial support for the project, but the council must first pay for the EPA report.

Michael Flanagan, Chairman of the Doonbeg Development Company, said the development of the pier would provide a new source of income for fishermen. There is currently just one fisherman working full time from the pier that once provided a livelihood for half a dozen local families.

The developed pier would also create extra jobs by stimulating the promotion of sea angling, leisure trips to view the cliff scenery off Doonbeg and help promote Doonbeg as an angling centre.

“In order for businesses like that to flourish we need to have the facilities,” said Mr Flanagan.

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Claire Gallagher is a multi-award winning journalist with more than 15 years experience in media. The Galwegan began her career in radio working in news and current affairs. Having spent a year on the dark side – political PR and Spin – she returned to journalism and has since then worked mainly in print – regional and national – while continuing to work with the broadcast media. She has been with the Clare People since its foundation in 2005. She was awarded “Young Irish Medical Journalist of the Year” in June 2008 while working with the paper. Twitter @galocon Facebook ClaireGallagherClarePeople

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