A major new obstacle has been installed at the Fanad Arch gate, just weeks after An Bord Pleanala upheld an appeal to restore access to the iconic attraction.
Locals have battled for two years to clear the blockage placed on the main path to the Great Arch. They achieved a victory in May when An Bord Pleanala agreed that the barrier was against the ‘right of public use’.
However, a new grid has appeared at the site, which residents say makes it impossible for visitors to access the Arch by this route.
The Tirconnail Tribune reports that a new grid has been placed across the gateway despite the preservation group’s call to Donegal County Council to request the owners to remove all ‘obstacles’ or ‘works undertaken to immobilise public use’ to be removed immediately.
Kerri Coll led the two-year battle by the Great Arch Action Committee against Donegal County Council’s decision that works carried out in June 2017 did not require planning permission.
She told the Tribune that their appeal has been fully vindicated by An Bord Pleanála’s decision.
She said: “Our committee has always felt that the attitude of the Council was ridiculous and entirely heedless of the effect of this closure on the local community.
“The people of Fanad have suffered the loss of a much-cherished amenity, and local tourism had been hit by the exclusion of visitors from the enjoyment of the walk out to the stunning rock arch, a natural marvel much frequented since before Victorian times.
“When the heavy obstruction appeared in June 2017, the Council refused to do anything, even saying in its Section 5 Declaration that it is not a development that requires planning permission.
“Everyone knew that was ridiculous and now An Bord Pleanála has proved us to be right. We call on Donegal County Council to meet its legal obligation and immediately commence the procedures enforcing the removal of the huge concrete blocks and barbed wire that close off the old entrance to the pathway.”
The Great Arch Action Committee also intends to make this a front-line issue for newly elected local representatives to take up with the Council as soon as they take up office.
Ms. Coll makes it clear: “We expect their full cooperation in ensuring that this long-established path is reopened in time for the coming tourist season as well as for ourselves and our families to enjoy once more.”
The Pollett Great Arch is as old as the ocean itself and along with the Seven Arches further south on Lough Swilly is one of the precious tourism gems on the Donegal landscape.