Three Irish environmental organisations have submitted objections to plans to turn a island off the coast of Cork into a major tourist attraction.
Fáilte Ireland is aiming to install a state-of-the-art cable car system to serve Dursey Island.
The project, expected to cost between €7m and €10m, also includes plans for a new visitor centre with a restaurant, gift shop and car park on the mainland.
The new two-way cable-car system will be capable of carrying 300 people each way every hour and is earmarked to replace a six-person cable car that is already in operation.
Cork County Council has already requested compulsory purchase orders for lands needed for the development and for 16 passing bays on the stretch of road towards the area from the main Beara Peninsula Road.
In a joint-statement, Friends of the Irish Environment, An Taisce and Birdwatch Ireland hit out at the ongoing promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way and warned that the plans promote an increase in road traffic in rural Cork and threaten local birdlife on the island.
In its submission to An Bord Pleanála, An Taisce said: “The inappropriate promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way as a private car route is undermining the quality and experience of the wild coastal landscape that it is seeking to promote and is creating congestion points.”
It said projects aiming to attract large numbers of tourists and cars should not be located in “areas of ecological or landscape sensitivity” that are not prepared for the influx.
“Undesirable on multiple grounds"
It said the “ecological sensitivity of Dursey” as well as the narrow stretch of road linking it to national network makes it “unsuitable for a proposal of this scale.”
It said tourism investment in West Cork should promote non-car based travel and encourage longer stays in the area.
It said the high-volume car-based day trip model the plans are based on are “undesirable on multiple grounds.”
Friends of the Irish Environment spokesman Tony Lowes said: “Not since the Office of Public Works tried to build the Burren Interpretative Centre at Mullaghmore in 1992 has Ireland seen such an inappropriate proposal.”
Birdwatch Ireland said there has been a 30% drop in the numbers of Chough, a species with special protection under national and EU law, on the island since 2003.