Royal Portrush to begin coastal erosion protection works

Royal Portrush to begin coastal erosion protection works

Fri, February 09, 2024

Work is due to begin next week to strength the coastal erosion defences protecting part of the famous Dunluce links at Royal Portrush Golf Club.

The club’s General Manager John Lawler confirmed that contractors are expected to take three weeks to complete the scheme which involves extending the rock armour by 20 metres on a stretch of the East Strand below the fifth green and six tee box.

Public access to the beach close to the White Rocks is likely to be affected during the work, but Mr Lawler insisted any disruption will be kept to a minimum.

With major new work underway on the links in preparation for next year’s Open Championship, there were heightening fears that heavy winter storms could cause damage to the course.  But following lengthy discussions with officials of the Department of the Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs to secure a Marine Licence, the go-ahead has been given for the work to start on February 12.

The area of 5th green and the tee-box for the par-3 6th hole which overlooks the east strand is one of the course’s iconic locations.

Mr Lawler said: “The erosion experienced at the back of this tee was of huge concern and presented a serious threat to this area of the course.  This modest increase to the existing defences will provide a more robust defence from winter storms.”

Arrangements had been agreed with Causeway and Glens Borough Council to enable the public to continue to have access to the area while the work is ongoing.

He added:  “Our priority is to get this work done in a safe manner, and as efficiently as possible to minimise disruption to those who use the beach.

“The completed works will allow us all to breathe easier, particularly with the 2025 Open just around the corner.  The potential for catastrophic damage to this area of the course, especially so close to the Open, does not bear thinking about.”

More than a then record breaking 237,500 fans from all over the world attended the Open five years ago, and with extended hospitality and spectators areas planned for the 153rd championship, even bigger crowds are expected on the North Coast.

The site compound and a corridor onto the working area of the beach will be fenced off from February 12th until the work is finished. The council is also erecting signage to advise beach users in advance of the works.

The Council’s Coast and Countryside and Estates teams will carry out pre and post site inspections.

Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Councillor Steven Callaghan said: “I am pleased that this crucial work is taking place to protect this highly treasured links course, which is one of the jewels in the Borough’s crown.

“It is vitally important that this improvement scheme is carried ahead of The Open next year. The significance of this much-anticipated tournament simply cannot be overstated, as it will bring huge economic benefits to the local area.

“Importantly, Council wishes to assure visitors that they will continue to have access to the beach, the toilets and the other car parks within the site throughout the duration of this work.”

The North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, who is also chairman on the Westminster all-party group on golf said it has been a long and protracted campaign to enable the work to begin.  The granting of permission to proceed was vital, he said.

He added: “Let’s be clear – without the defence work being carried out, the vital economic benefit that comes to Northern Ireland and the Coast as a result of golf tourism as an economic driver, would be lost.

“I congratulate all those who worked tirelessly to make this happen. Northern Ireland will be the better for it, and our coastal asset strengthened as a result.”

Clyde Shanks, a planning consultant, who was involved in the process, said: “Securing planning permission has been an exacting process of environmental assessment to demonstrate that the additional rock armour protection will not cause harm to the wider coastline.

“It’s essential to protect the links layout at its most breath taking location, and to do so in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable manner.”