UPDATE 19 & 20 June 2012
[correspondence from UNESCO to DCMS and DCMS to DOE is absent]
[hopefully it will be made available in the public interest]
[for a clearer understanding of the issues]
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"The Department did however advise the Department for Culture, Media, Sport and Leisure (DCMS), which is the Government body responsible for all World Heritage properties in the UK, immediately once my decision was taken. DCMS in turn advised UNESCO which is the parent body of the WHC." ... Minister Attwood 16 March 2012 [PDF file]
".. a brief report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage Property of Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast will be presented for examination to the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session, which will take place from 24 June to 6 July 2012." [UNESCO statement June 18, 2012]Whilst some local politicians have been condemning the National Trust for taking Minister Attwood's Bushmills Dunes decision to judicial review exchanges have been taking place [PDF file] between UNESCO and the Department of Culture Media and Sport, the department responsible for the protection of World Heritage sites in the United Kingdom alongside related discussions between DCMS and DOE:
GIANT'S CAUSEWAY AND CAUSEWAY COAST (UNITED KINGDOM
OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND) (C 369)
C. Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (C 369)
47. On 22 Feb 2012, a planning application for the development of a golf resort including an 18-hole championship golf course, clubhouse, golf academy and driving range, 120 bedroom hotel and 75 guest suites at the World Heritage property Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland was granted. On the same day, the State Party of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland submitted a state of conservation report following the World Heritage Centre's request of 20 December
2011 for information on this development proposal. 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.
48. 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.
Draft Decision: 36 COM 7C
The World Heritage Committee,
Other conservation issues not reported on at the 36th session under Items 7A and 7B
12. Requests furthermore the State Party of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland to halt the proposed development of a golf resort at the World
Heritage property “Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast” until its potential impact on
the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property has been assessed.
DOE Permanent Secretary, Leo O'Reilly, could have been more explicit in his dealings with DCMS:
"The Department carefully considered the application. It fully assessed the development proposals and the environmental information contained in the Environmental Statement and subsequent Addenda, the comments of all consultees, letters of objection and support"
According to the Planning Service application E/2007/0075/F, there were 27 letters of objection and 2 letters of support - in the latter case, not one from an elected politician, not even from those who are currently tearing strips off the National Trust!!
National Parks story - was it an attempted diversion from the rather disconcerting UNESCO intervention?