A second phase of public and stakeholder consultation is underway in relation to the development of a long-term strategy and site masterplan for Ireland’s most visited natural attraction.
The Cliffs of Moher Strategy 2040 is being prepared on behalf of Clare County Council by a multidisciplinary consultancy team led by Haley Sharpe Design, an international design consultancy in the museum and heritage sector whose award-winning work includes the Normandy Visitor Garden, Grand Egyptian Museum, HMS Victory, and the Oman Botanic Garden. The strategy is co-funded by Fáilte Ireland.
A number of key concepts have developed from the extensive first phase of consultation with key stakeholders, local communities, organisations, businesses, and residents across Clare in 2021.
The concepts, which are linked to the County Clare Tourism Strategy 2030 and the Clare County Development Plan, include rewilding large sections of the Cliffs of Moher destination site, providing cliff-edge panoramic viewing platforms, repurposing the existing visitor centre, developing a new access gateway building at the site, and embracing a strategic approach to traffic management through greater coordination and links with existing and new transport services.
A series of stakeholder consultations in relation to the proposed concepts will take place during May while members of the public are invited to complete an online questionnaire at www.cliffsofmoher.ie or make a direct contribution via firstname.lastname@example.org on or before 5pm on Friday, 10th June, 2022. Public information boards are located at the Cliffs of Moher Experience, and outside the branch libraries in Ennistymon, Ennis, Kilrush and Killaloe, and at SkyCourt Shannon Town. A detailed consultation document on the Cliffs of Moher Strategy 2040 is available from Thursday, 5th May, 2022, at www.cliffsofmoher.ie.
Cllr PJ Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said public participation in the refinement and finalisation of the strategy “is crucial so that it fully addresses the collective aspirations for the Cliffs and the benefits it can bring to the county.”
He continued: “I would urge anyone with an interest in the tourism and economic development of County Clare to participate in the public consultation process on this strategy, which I hope will have long lasting and wide-ranging benefits for North Clare and the wider county.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, highlighted the importance of continued investment in the Cliffs of Moher Experience.
“The Cliffs of Moher is an iconic international tourism landmark and has dominated overseas marketing campaigns to attract tourists to Ireland for decades,” he explained. “The last masterplan for the site was completed almost 20 years ago. A visitor attraction of this renown, scale, and geological and environmental importance requires proper planning for future protection and to ensure economic benefit for the wider region.”
Leonard Cleary, Director of Rural Development, Clare County Council, said: “This strategy creates a clear vision for the future direction of the Cliffs of Moher, enhances the special qualities of this world-renowned landmark, improves the visitor experience in keeping with the highest international visitor attraction standards and grows the Cliffs of Moher’s contribution to County Clare in a sustainable way. At its very heart is an environmental management approach that will provide enormous biodiversity and environmental benefits to the site and surrounding areas, protect the site for future generations, and deliver economic benefits to the wider tourism economy.”
Geraldine Enright, Manager of the Cliffs of Moher Experience, said the development of the strategy had reached a key stage.
“Feedback received during the current phase of public consultation and engagement with stakeholders will be collated and considered before a final draft is prepared and presented to the Elected Members of Clare County Council for their consideration and approval,” explained Ms. Enright. “The strategy must go through statutory processes, such as a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Ministerial Review of same, before being finalised and published in December 2022.”
Key stakeholders participating in the consultation process to date include Elected Members, community groups in North Clare, local landowners, Fáilte Ireland, Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, Burren Ecotourism Network, local accommodation providers and businesses, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Clare Local Development Company (CLDC), Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Coach Tourism and Transport Council (CTTC), Irish Tour Operators Association (ITOA), the Board of Cliffs of Moher Centre DAC, and all staff and tenants of the Cliffs of Moher Experience, as well as staff of the Planning, Roads and Tourism departments of Clare County Council.