THE row over the planned golf course on the north Antrim coast has taken another twist, after it emerged that a United Nations body may intervene in stopping the development.
Unesco, the UN body in charge of heritage intends asking its World Heritage Committee to request the UK government to put a stop to the Bushmills Dunes golf course - close to the Giants Causeway at Runkerry - until its potential impact has been assessed.
The move comes after the National Trust said last week, that they would seek a judicial review of the decision to approve the planning application.
In a statement Unesco said the UK government could still be invited to make its case in favour of the golf development, and no final decision will be made until next week’s meeting of the World Heritage Committee.
It said: “According to the report, the proposed development lies within the buffer zone of the World Heritage property, a designated Distinctive Landscape Setting for which protective policies have been proposed in the draft Northern Area Plan.
“The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend to the World Heritage Committee to request the state party to halt the development project until the potential impact of the proposed development on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property has been assessed, and until it has been confirmed that no impact on Outstanding Universal Value will occur.”
In a statement released in response to this latest twist, the Environment Minister Alex Attwood said he would “welcome Unesco to see the Buhmills Dunes for themselves”.
He said he was confident that he can put their minds at ease.
“I am fully aware of the recommendation of the World Heritage Centre to meeting of the World Heritage Committee about the Bushmills Dunes decision and the suggestion that the development project should be delayed,” he said.
“In coming to my decision to grant approval, I considered extensively the potential environmental and heritage impacts on the area, including on the World Heritage site at the Giant’s Causeway.
“The assessment made and the scale of the safeguards I required as conditions of the planning permission, mean that the heritage value of the Giant’s Causeway area has been protected and will be seen to be protected.
“I have previously said, and repeat now that this offers firm reassurances to any who may question the decision on environmental or heritage grounds.”
The minister added: “Given this, if they come to Northern Ireland, I would welcome them here, meet with them, visit the site, and allow them to reassure themselves around the detail of how environmental and heritage issues have been managed, the scale of the environmental conditions laid down and why my decision was a right and proper one.
“I would look forward to meeting with them.”