Hellfire tourist plan 'would do untold damage'
Proposals for a €15m tourism development at Dublin's Hellfire Club could do "untold damage" to the area and leave local residents facing traffic gridlocks, a TD has claimed.
South Dublin County Council (SDCC) hopes to build a tourism centre with a viewing platform on the historic site, as well as a cafe and car park, which it says could attract up to 300,000 visitors a year.
However, local Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy said the area would not be capable of handling such an influx.
He told Newstalk Breakfast: "I would have no problem if what was being proposed was a gateway for people to go walking in the Dublin Mountains, historically one of the things the Hellfire Club has been.
"But what's actually being proposed is a viewing platform visitor centre. The figure being proposed is 300,000 visitors every year.
"So what you're looking at is 300,000 people coming in coaches or cars, viewing over Dublin, taking a look and then going back to the city centre.
"There are better locations within the confines of the Dublin hills and mountains that would enable better access and road usage."
Mr Brophy added that he would like to see the site developed but on a smaller scale.
"What would be better for the Hellfire is a very limited development that would protect the structure, that would allow for better access to the hills but in a way fitting in with the environment and not destroying what is there," he said.
"In my opinion, you cannot build this building. You cannot put those kind of numbers in without doing untold damage to the Hellfire."
The Dublin South-West representative claimed that if the development goes ahead, locals will face nightmare traffic jams.
"We all feel this is far too big, too intrusive. At the heart of it, there are major issues, particularly concerning how you would manage the traffic based on the projected numbers," he said.
"I think that South Dublin County Council has put forward a scheme that could lead to a permanent gridlock situation on weekends and busy summer days if they got anywhere near the type of visitor numbers they are projecting. These are quite small, rural roads."
A spokesman for SDCC said submissions relating to the project can be lodged with An Bord Pleanala until 5pm on March 1.
"An application for the proposed Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre Project has been lodged with An Bord Pleanala," he added.
"We understand there has been 115 submissions made to date but it would not be appropriate for the council to comment further on projects under consideration.
"In the meantime, South Dublin County Council would encourage members of the public to learn more about the rationale and details of the project by visiting our dedicated project website."