Ireland gives Trump golf course green light for scaled-down sea wall

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland on Thursday gave the green light for a company owned by U.S. President Donald Trump to build a scaled-down sea wall at its golf course in the west of Ireland that environmental groups say could damage protected wildlife habitats.

The Trump International Golf Links Doonbeg, owned by the Trump Organization, received permission for two sea barriers of 630 meters and 260 meters in length, Clare County said, a year after it rejected plans for a much larger 2.8 km wall.

Residents and environmental groups objected, saying the wall - which is designed to protect the golf course from coastal erosion - could alter the coastline at other points and harm wildlife.

“It’s disappointing. We should be altering the golf course not the coastline,” said Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan. He said he would be surprised if the decision is not appealed.

Trump has spent $330 million buying golf courses and land to develop since he began investing in golf in 1997.

The environmental group Save The Waves collected 100,000 signatures opposed to the initial development plan.

“You can’t ignore (the fact that) the owner in this case is so notorious but the concerns were there long before he bought the course,” Ryan said.

The general manager of the golf club said he was pleased with the decision and thanked the council for its “foresight”.

“This decision demonstrates the council’s commitment to support local business and protect the economic future of the region,” General Manager Joe Russell said in a statement.

The original plan envisaged a 2.8 km (1.7 miles) armourstone wall up to 20 meters wide and 5 meters above the water line between the sea and the dunes and sparked a campaign by environmental groups and locals to protect the beach.

The new plan provides for a less visible sheet metal piling and rock armor at two points above the high water mark.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Ralph Boulton