Doolin Pier, Ireland
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Engaged by the Irish Surfing Association to assess the potential environmental impacts, both coastal and terrestrial, associated with the construction of a commercial passenger ferry pier. The site was located in an area designated as a protected habitat (EU Protection) and an area of heritage, social & recreational significance. The site was also adjacent a highly regard surfing wave.
The project included construction of a 135m access roadway leading to a 85m long pier structure which was to extend 6.5m above sea-level.
Works also involved the blasting and dredging of a large area of seabed, including an approach channel 38m wide and 100m in length to a depth of -2.6m, in addition to a berthing area of approximately 38m in width and 85m in length.
A 7m high revetment (sea wall) to protect the new pier was also included as part of the overall development.
A summary of the case is provided by Savethewaves.org.
Undertook an assessment of all construction drawings and associated technical expert reports (including wave modelling, ecological, social, and visual assessments).
The proposed development was assessed against the relevant planning and environmental legislation and policy. Part of the process involved consultation with the relevant Council and engagement with key stakeholders.
The Council (applicant) held the position that, due to its size and characteristics, an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was not required as part of the assessment process. Our review concluded that an EIS should be undertaken and our position was agreed with by the national appeals board (An Bord Pleanála), on referral.
The Council were then required to undertake a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, providing a more thorough assessment as to the potential impacts on the environment. This also resulted in a change in the decision maker from the local Council to the national appeals board, allowing an independent assessment to take place.
Our additional work involved undertaking a detailed and comprehensive review of the EIS and development proposal, resulting in a detailed submission to the planning appeals board. Our submission also included mitigation measures to be implemented should permission be granted.
Following a 3 year assessment process, the final pier design was approved; the revised design included a reduction in size and the relocation of the pier – thus reducing the dredging and blasting area and the overall environmental impact. In addition, provision of safe access for surfers into the water was included as part of the design.
This was the first planning appeal case in Ireland that recognised the social, economic and cultural importance of surfing.