BALLYVAUGN, IRELAND –– Set against the soaring cliffs, crashing waves and hidden beaches of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Trump International Golf Course in Doonbeg, Ireland, sits along the 1,553-mile stretch of this country’s spectacular west coast.
And as a pre-election frenzy roils the U.S. with just two days until Americans head to the polls, another Donald Trump-fueled storm has been brewing across the Atlantic — another controversy over a wall, no less.
The Republican presidential nominee has made waves throughout this rural Irish landscape after applying for a permit to erect a 200,000-ton, 1.7-mile-long seawall near the County Clare golf course, a property he purchased in 2014 for around €8.7 million ($10.85 million).
Those in the United States might be surprised to learn the proposed justification for the erection of that wall — the predicted damaging effects of global warming.
Stateside Trump has, of course, famously referred to global warming as a “hoax” and “bullshit” and has pushed conspiracy theories like that in a 2012 tweet in which he called climate change a concept “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” The tweet became a flashpoint during his first presidential debate against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
NBC News just called it the great freeze – coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2014
In Ireland, however, the effect of climate change is being put forward as a justification for building a wall to prevent coastal erosion that could cause damage to his golf course, which he valued at €23 million, according to 2015 financial disclosures with the Federal Election Commission. Trump said he planned to invest an additional €45 million in the resort.
The application request to the Clare County Council, which was filed by Trump International Golf Links Ireland in the spring, cites several effects of global warming as justification for the seawall, including “sea level rise,” “excessive erosion,” “increased Atlantic storminess,” and the “rapid and progressive loss of habitat” in the area.
While some locals support Trump’s plans for the wall, others, especially environmental organizations and ocean protection groups, have vehemently opposed the businessman’s efforts, which they say will disrupt the natural landscape and the beloved surf break in the region.
Since the application was initially reported in the spring of 2016, tensions throughout the rural Irish landscape have continued to build, with several environmental groups quick to protest the proposed seawall. The construction would “restrict public access, negatively impact a widely popular surfing wave, and carry grave consequences for the pristine dune system it would transect,” according to Nick Mucha, director of programs at Save the Waves Coalition, which launched an online campaign last month that collected nearly 100,000 signatures from around the world opposing the project.
“In the long run, the wall could actually lead to complete beach loss, meaning that the wide public beach you see today would be completely submerged,” he told Yahoo News.
The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment by Yahoo News.
Still, many locals welcome Trump and his proposed project. Last summer, the Doonbeg Community Development Association told the Irish Journal that the billionaire had its ”wholehearted support.” The group also noted that “tourism is the lifeblood of our smaller economies in West Clare.”
The presidential hopeful was denied in the spring when he sought planning permission from the national government. He then resubmitted an application to the county government. The Clare County Council has sent a request to Trump to clarify or resolve 51 specific points related to the proposed construction plans.
In a statement to Yahoo News, the Clare City Council said: “A request for further information has been issued to the applicant, which has until December 31st 2016 to reply. In the meantime, Clare County Council is not in a position to make any comment on the proposed development while the application process is going.”
Trump consultants who are negotiating the wall plan have warned that if the project proposal doesn’t get the green light, he would consider closing the resort all together.
“If the council and planning bodies turn Trump down, he’d be entitled to pack up and leave, but it would be a very dark day for everyone living around here. Sure the development won’t cost the council or taxpayer a cent. We’d be foolish to stand in the way of it,” a Doonbeg resident told IrishCentral.com in April.
Mucha acknowledged the support Trump has received from many Doonbeg locals but called it a “hard-lined negotiation tactic and one that has unfortunately been successful in dividing the Doonbeg community between pro-environment and pro-jobs.”
But, he said, there are options that could satisfy both camps, including altering the course’s layout.
“There is the availability to [remodel] the course away from the eroding dunes [so that] they have flexibility to work within the natural dynamics but are choosing to put all their chips on this highly controversial seawall,” he said. Though he added, “It is hard to discuss compromises when Trump himself has said that he would walk away from the resort if the project is not approved.
“Why build a wall of that magnitude when alternatives exist?” he said.