“the trust’s over-riding focus is the protection of the environment and landscape within the distinctive setting of Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site”

The BBC report on the news that the National Trust are seeking leave for a judicial review of the decision to grant planning permission for a 18-hole golf course, hotel and golf lodges complex at Runkerry, close to the Unesco World Heritage Centre Giants’ Causeway and Causeway Coast, begins thus

Stormont ministers have reacted angrily to a legal challenge by the National Trust over the decision to grant planning permission for a £100m golf resort on Northern Ireland’s north coast.

That’s according to an anonymous source.  [Northern Ireland Executive Ministers being so reluctant to speak to the media… – Ed]  Indeed.  The only quoted objections, so far, to the action in the report are from the DUP’s Ian Paisley Jnr, MP.

And, as the BBC report notes

On Wednesday, the charity confirmed the legal move saying it had “consistently opposed the planning application”.

It added that, in particular, it was concerned that the entire development was on land zoned in the draft Northern Area Plan as the “distinctive landscape setting of the World Heritage Site in which no development should take place”.

The trust said: “This is based on a recommendation by UNESCO – the body responsible for World Heritage designations – that there should be a buffer zone to protect the special landscape surrounding the Causeway.”

The charity added that having “carefully considered” all the information relating to the planning decision, there remained “fundamental issues of concern”.

It said it had “no option” but to seek leave for a judicial review, so that the decision could be given the “fullest possible consideration.”

As the BBC reported back on 21 February 2012

The National Trust said it was disappointed with the environment minister’s decision to approve the project.

It said it “was not opposed to the development” but was convinced that “the planning application was contrary to a range of the department’s planning policies”.

A spokesperson said: “As a conservation charity the trust’s over-riding focus is the protection of the environment and landscape within the distinctive setting of Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site.

“We believe this farmland and dune system is the wrong place for such a massive development.

“The National Trust will carefully review the details of the planning decision and consider its options.”

It will now be up to the courts to decide.  Regardless of the reported displeasure of NI Executive Ministers, or others.