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Monday 26 June 2017

Portmarnock works halted over habitat concerns

Work has stopped at Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links
Work has stopped at Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links

US property giant Kennedy Wilson has been ordered to cease development work at Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links - home to one of Ireland's best-known golf courses.

An investment fund controlled by the US firm owns the property in the north Dublin seaside town.

Reconstruction work on a tee was taking place beside a protected dune area, and the hotel owners must now liaise with a biodiversity officer before any further work is undertaken.

The company undertaking the tee redevelopment on behalf of the hotel owners had earth-moving equipment adjacent to the so-called grey dune system, an ecosystem that is protected under an EU directive. Such dunes are frequently home to rare plant species.

Inspections

Tee development on existing golf courses, as in this case, does not normally require planning permission.

However, last week, Fingal County Council conducted two site inspections on the works, due to the proximity of the golf course to the dune system.

The council then issued a cease work order to the hotel owner, informing the investment group that the development was being carried out on a protected habitat.

A spokesman for Fingal County Council said it is now working with the hotel owner to ensure the habitat is protected.

"If the solution is restoration then that is what will be required," the spokesman said.

"The biodiversity officer will advise them as to the best course of action."

Local Labour councillor Brian McDonagh said that it was essential the dune system was protected. He added that the hotel owners had complied immediately with the council's order and were willing to work with it to address the issue.

Kennedy Wilson did not comment.

The Portmarnock property was bought by Kennedy Wilson - which also owns the Shelbourne Hotel - from Nama in 2014 for €27m.

Kennedy Wilson - whose European arm owns about €1bn of assets in Ireland - has spent about €5m refurbishing the four-star Portmarnock property.

The golf course, which was designed by German golfer Bernhard Langer, opened in 1995, while the hotel also incorporates the ancestral home of the Jameson distilling family.

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