WHC requests UK Government “to halt the proposed development of a golf resort at the World Heritage property ‘Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast'”

The BBC reports that the World Heritage Committee (WHC) of Unesco has agreed to request “the state party of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to halt the proposed development of a golf resort at the World Heritage property ‘Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast’ until its potential impact on the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage property has been assessed”.  

The WHC request comes after the National Trust’s decision to seek leave for a judicial review of the decision to grant planning permission for the 18-hole golf course, hotel and golf lodges complex at Runkerry, close to the Unesco World Heritage Centre Giants’ Causeway and Causeway Coast.

As the BBC report also notes

Representatives from the [UK] government’s Department of Media, Culture and Sport attended the meeting as observers only as the UK is not a member of the committee.

NI Environment Minister Alex Attwood said he had sent a letter to Unesco last week through the government.

“It stated that if Unesco wished to come to assess the World Heritage site, I would welcome them, meet them, and visit the site with them,” Mr Attwood said.

“I welcome the opportunity to show Unesco what I am doing to safeguard the site, and hope that the visit will happen soon.

“I will also take the opportunity to outline to UNESCO the decision I have taken in respect of the Runkerry development and to detail the environmental impact, economic benefit and planning reasons that have informed my decision.

“I believe that the WHC of Unesco will very much appreciate how my decision was reached, how I took into full account environmental and heritage issues in addition to planning and economic ones.”

Which was probably too little, too late.  As an earlier BBC report pointed out

Petya Totcharova of the World Heritage Centre said they needed to be consulted about major projects near their sites.

“Operational guidelines for the implementation of the convention require state parties to consult the World Heritage Committee before irreversible decisions are taken on major projects which may or may not have an impact on the world heritage property,” she said.

“Such a requirement exists because the committee needs to examine whether there could be a negative or adverse effect.”

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On Wednesday [20 June], Ms Totcharova said: “Timewise, we received quite detailed information from external sources not related to the government late last year.

“We requested information from the state party and received a reply in February that the permission had been granted.”

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