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Proposed development to upgrade and provide for enhanced visitor experience facilities at Loop Head

19 April 2022

Clare County Council intends to seek the approval of An Bord Pleanála for the proposed development to upgrade and provide for enhanced visitor experience facilities at Loop Head, Kilbaha.

Loop Head Lighthouse is steeped in history and is rich in maritime heritage with its origins dating back to the 1670s. Located at the mouth of Shannon Estuary, the existing tower style lighthouse was constructed in 1854 and was operated and maintained by a keeper who lived within the lighthouse compound. In January 1991, the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation, and today is monitored by the Commissioner of Irish Lights.

By the time of the early 19th century Ordnance survey, the medieval lighthouse, and keepers’ cottages are indicated in plan, in their current orthogonal arrangement. They are located within the footprint of the existing outer masonry wall that encloses the wider Lighthouse compound. Later 19th and 20th century developments enclosed the inner lighthouse courtyard, to the south, and north, leaving the eastern edge more or less open to the approach from the main road. The buildings are thus arranged in long bars that effectively create a modest yet characterful, sheltered courtyard.

The Peninsula of Loop Head extends approximately 15km into the Atlantic Ocean, at the northern extremity of the Shannon Estuary, at the west edge of County Clare. The peninsula terminates with sea cliffs of 60m elevation to the north, west and south which offer spectacular views in all directions.

The site is a Special Protection Area (SPA) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the cliff tops support a vegetation community that is very characteristic of exposed parts of the western sea-board. During the course of this design, all habitat and vegetation survey observations were made of presence/suitability of habitat for mammals, amphibians, reptiles and protected invertebrates. Bat surveys had already been undertaken to inform this assessment. A suite of breeding bird and migratory bird surveys were also carried out, using vantage point surveys of nesting colonies to map and geo-reference all cliff-nesting seabird species within the study area. All birds observed, including birds in flight, were recorded. The results of these surveys were used to inform the AA_NIS prepared as part of this planning application.

Clare County Council intends to seek the approval of An Bord Pleanála under Section 177AE of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) for the proposed development to upgrade and provide for enhanced visitor experience facilities, with ancillary infrastructure and associated site development works (totalling 526 sq m gross floor space), at a site of approximately 52.8ha in extent and located at the Wild Atlantic Way Signature Discovery Point at Loop Head and the R487 Regional Road, in the townlands of Kilbaha South and Kilbaha North, Kilbaha, Co. Clare.

Three Protected Structures are located within the Loop Head Lighthouse compound: Light Keeper’s House RPS No. 337; 2 no. semi-detached Light Keepers’ Houses RPS No. 338; and Loop Head Lighthouse RPS No. 339. Recorded Monument Ref. No. CL071-002, being a single storey building with a vaulted stone roof that is the remnants of the first lighthouse on Loop Head is also located within the Loop Head Lighthouse compound. Four Recorded Monuments are located outside the Loop Head Lighthouse compound wall: Fortification Ref. No. CL071-001001; Standing Stone Ref. No. CL071-001002; Redundant Record Ref. No. CL071-003; and Redundant Record Ref. No. CL071-042.

An information sharing document aims to communicate with all stakeholders and people with interest in the proposed development. This document will take you through the background context, the proposed design and location and relevant timelines.

The information sharing document can be accessed at: https://yoursay.clarecoco.ie/loop-head-application

Page last reviewed: 19/04/22

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