National Trust applies for Causeway planning approval

Eight years after the previous visitors’ centre burned down, the National Trust have applied for planning permission for a new visitors’ centre at the Giants’ Causeway. The Trust is to provide £6million and hopes to be able to access other funding sources to reduce the cost to the public purse to approximately £9million. The plan is to build the centre designed by the Dublin-based architects who won an International Design Competition in 2005. Those plans were put on hold in September 2007, by then-Tourism Minister Nigel Dodds, following Environment Minister Arlene Foster’s ministerial mindedness to approve private developer Seymour Sweeney’s plans. The Environment Minister eventually changed her mind, and is now the Tourism Minister..

The trust’s Northern Ireland director, Hilary McGrady, said: “Key to all of this is that this investment will ensure that the Giant’s Causeway visitor facilities remain in public ownership”

Then there’s the issue of what information will be in the visitors’ centre..

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  • joeCanuck

    Excellent news. Another year has just been wasted due to the efforts/misdeeds of the wee one and the big one.
    Hopefully planning permission will be rapidly granted and things can now move along quickly.
    Do you really think there is any chance of supernaturalism getting a toehold there, Pete? Surely not.

  • Pete Baker


    “Do you really think there is any chance of supernaturalism getting a toehold there, Pete? Surely not.”

    Hopefully not.

    But we’ll just have to keep a close eye on what they get up to.


    Any idea of the governance structure of this 3.5 million group. Who controls it? And who elects those that control the dues of its 3.5 million army? Also, how did they manage to “National Trust” places in the Victorian age when they lacked bodies?

  • Andrew Kerr

    Pete, Joe
    rest assured that the Geological Society of London will be keeping a close eye on this to ensure that the pseudo-scientific claptrap of the 6-day creationists doesnt get anywhere near this centre.

    This would include using our links to UNESCO, to put pressure on people,as I think the Causeway’s World Heritage Status, might be at risk were such unscientific nonsense to be included in the new visitor centre.

  • “such unscientific nonsense to be included in the new visitor centre.”

    Careful, Andrew, as Finn Mac Cool might know where you live 😉

  • Pete Baker

    Cheers Andrew.

    “I think the Causeway’s World Heritage Status, might be at risk were such unscientific nonsense to be included in the new visitor centre.”

    I think you’re correct on that.

  • joeCanuck

    That’s great news, Andrew.

  • ulsterfan

    To be completed by 2011 and open for business.
    Lets hope the designers got it right first time.

  • interested

    About time the National Trust took their finger out of wherever they’ve been hiding it for the last 8 years.

    You have to wonder just what kind of plans it has taken them since May 2000 to draw up?

    If it took a little pressure from devolved Government to shift them then that’s good news.

  • Interested, the NT does not own the land on which the visitor centre and associated facilities would be built; that land belongs to Moyle District Council.

    What’s ‘good’ about the actions of Dodds and Foster in this debacle? Were you impressed by the latter’s response to this ‘blot on the landscape‘ nearby?

  • The Raven

    Nevin, what’s happened down there is a disgrace. So much for being in and around an AONB.

    Naturally, the owner would prefer to have it in a wee cage, rather than demolish it, as I am sure it would have the same symbolic effect as rubbing shit in the faces of locals.

    Come the revolution, Nevin, come the revolution….

  • Buile Suibhne

    I understand that the National Trust have done everything in their power to deliver on new visitor facilities but have been frustrated by a variety of ogres including: a curly haired supporter of a cetain party, his political PR man, self seeking members of that party (at both council and assembly level) and civil servants who lack any vision.

  • Raven, you’ll remember that some DUP ministers seemed quite keen that their party colleague should develop a world class visitor centre. Just look at the current state of his miniature railway enterprise next door.

    Has Junior had anything to say about the Rathlin ferry story? The SDLP representatives seem remarkably quiet too. As for SF … The new operator was supposed to take over the service on June 1 and the main interest in the NALIL blog these past few days is coming from Edinburgh rather than Belfast.

  • “the owner would prefer to have it in a wee cage”

    Raven, the fisherman’s cottage had survived the ravages of the locals and nature for generations. Have you read Foster’s replies to Allister’s query? The owner, a certain Seymour Sweeney, asserted that he had a choice between a fence around the cottage and fencing off part of the Ulster Way. So Foster declined to take further action.

    Can I assure Slugger readers that there’s no truth in the rumour that the developer has been put under house arrest behind razor-wire fencing following his recent conviction for common assault.

    There’s something rather farcical about this ‘secure’ pad for people of means. The last time I walked past one of the gates was lying open ..

  • The Raven

    But what is the answer, Nevin? They all seem shit scared of “the owner”. No one is doing anything. On certain issues, the Council, or perhaps some of the officers, seem to be in the very pocket of the local gentry. There’s very little doubt about politicians further up the food chain either…

    Yes, it seems to be that whenever Seymour asserts, people lie down…

  • Jen Erik

    “Yes, it seems to be that whenever Seymour asserts, people lie down… ”

    Christine Alexander deserves an honourable mention for non-supineness above and beyond the call of duty.

  • Jen, here’s a snippet from the Belfast Telegraph, June 10, 2007:

    Ms Alexander was left with the £7,500 bill and is now prevented from ” entering onto or otherwise interfering with” Seaport’s land.

    Conservationists are aghast at what happened to her. They say wealthy developers are rarely left out of pocket.

    When the Belfast Telegraph asked Mr Sweeney about the dispute, he said: ” The case is over and done with and finished.”

    When we said we understood the case was not finished because the injunction still stood, he said: “I have no comment to make on this matter whatsoever” adding: “If you run a story that is inaccurate then I will have to take action.”

    How are you supposed to know you’re on developer land if the land is believed by local people to be common land? Perhaps it’s time the ‘conservationists’ moved from their aghast state to one that would deliver fairness for Christine and any others who might find themselves in a similar predicament.

  • “But what is the answer, Nevin?”

    Exposure on Slugger and similar outlets, Raven. It seems that, sadly, some members of the Executive will have to be named and shamed.

  • The Raven

    I know Christine – I wish there were more like her. A few more elections, and I think there will be.

    Nevin, if you have a pressure group formed, or forming, let me know. I, and several others, would be interested in lending a hand.

  • Raven, please contact me via the NALIL blog. You’ll find the web address under my name.

  • eranu

    whatever they do with the visitors centre, i hope they will still be stocking ‘The Ulster Haunbook’. i remember years ago on family holidays having an amusing flick through it in the book shop 🙂

    i think alot of the causeway is underwater. i wonder would some sort of perspex underwater tunnel be an interesting way of seeing all of the rock formations. also it would be good to have a few information boards located around the site to explain what we’re looking at. That’s something most tourist areas need more of.