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Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Factors affecting the property in 2013*
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Development of a golf resort

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2013
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2013**

February 2013: IUCN advisory mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

In its Decision 36 COM 7C the World Heritage Committee had requested the State Party to halt the proposed development of a hotel and golf resort in the vicinity of the property until its potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) had been assessed. Prior to the Committee’s Decision, the World Heritage Centre, by letter dated 31 May 2012, had suggested to the State Party to invite an advisory mission in light of the scale of the proposed development. From 20 to 22 February 2013, an IUCN advisory mission visited the property, at the invitation of the State Party, to assess the overall state of conservation of the property and to provide technical advice on its conservation and heritage-led development.

a)  Overall state of conservation

The IUCN advisory mission found that the OUV of the property in terms of criterion (viii) has been maintained. It noted that the new visitor centre, which replaces a structure that was present at the property at the time of its inscription, and which had been the subject of previous reports to the Committee at its 27th (UNESCO, 2003), 29th (Durban, 2005) and 32nd (Quebec City, 2008) sessions, is well integrated in the surrounding landscape. It, however, also noted that no buffer zone has yet been defined despite the recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission of February 2003 that had suggested establishing a clearly defined buffer zone to provide for the best protection of the values and integrity of the property, given that it is also inscribed under criterion (vii) for its outstanding natural beauty. The IUCN advisory mission also recalled that the 2003 mission had pointed out that the landscape setting is crucial for the conservation of the natural beauty, and had therefore recommended to carefully review all zoning arrangements in order to preserve the landscape values of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) surrounding the property. It had also recommended that no developments, which could potentially threaten these values, should be allowed.

b)  Development projects

The IUCN advisory mission reviewed the state of conservation of the property. It considered that the planned hotel and golf resort development, the so-called Runkerry Development, does not comply with the principles of heritage-led development given its scale and location in the property’s immediate surroundings and its potential negative impact on the OUV and integrity of the property. The development project is located at 550 m outside the boundary of the 70 ha World Heritage property and stretches over an area of 148 ha, which lies within a nationally protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) that includes a high plateau, and an exposed sheep-grazed and rural landscape.

The advisory mission noted that, to date, specific assessment of impacts on OUV of the development has not been undertaken. Based on a review of information available, the mission considered that the proposed golf resort development would create an irreversible change of landscape character and would impact on important views within the setting of the property. The mission noted that the impact on the landscape includes incorporation of a dune landscape and rural landscape into a highly manicured environment. Moreover, the 18-hole golf course and the various buildings associated to the resort, including 75 lodges, a nearly ten metre high golf academy, and a 120 bedroom hotel with large amounts of glazing, would impact on important views in the landscape setting. 

The IUCN advisory mission recommended that given the significant impact on the landscape setting and important views, which sustain the property’s OUV, this development should not be permitted in its proposed scale and location.

c)  Planning policies related to protection and heritage-led development

IUCN recalled that national UK planning policies include provisions for the protection of World Heritage properties, in particular Planning Policy Statement No 6 (PPS6) of the Department of the Environment of Northern Ireland (DoENI), which clearly states that “development which would adversely affect [World Heritage properties] or the integrity of their setting will not be permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances”. It also noted draft Policy COU12 pertaining to the proposed Distinctive Landscape Setting of the property where the proposed development is located, which provides that “no development within the Distinctive Landscape Setting outside of settlement development limits will be approved except [...] exceptionally modest scale facilities, without landscape detriment, which are necessary to meet the direct needs of visitors to the [property]”.

Regarding the specific case of the proposed Runkerry golf resort development, IUCN considered that it does not appear to qualify as an “exceptionally modest scale facility” and that the development would appear to fall short of demonstrating a case for “exceptional circumstances” that would permit the development under PPS6.

IUCN noted that the written judgment of the Judicial Review of the approval of the development application refers to the February 2012 submission to the Secretary of State recommending approval of the proposal, which stated that the proposed development “would have a significant landscape and visual impact on the setting of the property”, but that this was regarded as being outweighed by economic and tourism considerations. IUCN further noted that the written judgment of the Judicial Review contains significant concerns of the approach that the responsible UK authorities have taken in relation to the assessment of impacts on OUV. The judgment notes the position of the responsible UK authorities in relation to consultation with and “the role of UNESCO to be surprising in a number of respects”, for instance that the State Party “considers that notification of a decision after it is made accords with paragraph 172 of the [Operational] Guidelines”, as “[...] the object of the exercise is to engage with the [World Heritage Committee] [...] before the decision is made.”

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2013

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the request of the Committee in Decision 36 COM 7C, and consider that the planning process of the Runkerry golf resort development has not allowed adequate consideration of impacts on the OUV of the property. They recall that the development project is located at 550 m outside the boundary of the property within a nationally protected AONB.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN further note that no buffer zone has yet been defined to provide for the protection of the values and integrity of the property, in particular its outstanding natural beauty, by preserving the landscape values of the AONB surrounding the property.

Given the scale and location of the proposed golf resort development project, it is recommended that it should not be permitted at its proposed scale and location in order to avoid adverse impact on the landscape setting and important views of the property, which are part of the property’s OUV. The Committee may therefore wish to reiterate its request to the State Party to halt the development until its impacts have been assessed in detail.

Noting the concerns raised by both the mission and the UK court regarding the current approach to consulting the World Heritage Committee, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN further recommend that the Committee strongly encourage the State Party to consider reinforcing its legal provisions and planning framework to allow the national authorities to ensure their responsibilities for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention at the national level, by establishing a consistent and clear priority for the protection of the OUV of UK World Heritage properties. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2013
37 COM 7B.28
Giant Causeway and Causeway Coast (United-Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) (N 369)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7C , adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Regrets that the State Party did not keep the Committee fully informed about the Runkerry golf resort development prior to any decisions being taken that are difficult to reverse, in line with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;

4.  Reiterates its request to the State Party to halt the proposed golf resort development project until its potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has been thoroughly assessed;

5.  Invites the State Party to consult the World Heritage Centre and IUCN on potential modifications and alternatives to the golf resort development project to avoid adverse impacts on the OUV of the property;

6.  Strongly encourages the State Party to consider strengthening its legal provisions and planning framework to allow the national authorities to ensure their responsibilities for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention at the national level regarding planned developments that could potentially impact on its World Heritage properties, and by ensuring that potential impacts on the OUV of any World Heritage property located on its territory be adequately assessed as part of the required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for such developments, or through a specific Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), and to also ensure that developments that adversely impact OUV are not permitted;

7.  Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , a report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above requests, as well as a copy of the EIA of the proposed Runkerry golf resort development, including a thorough assessment of its impacts on the OUV of the property.

37 COM 8E
Adoption of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value
The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Documents WHC-13/37.COM/8E and WHC-13/37.COM/8E.Add,

2.  Congratulates States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in their territories;

3.  Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-13/37.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

  • Andorra: Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley;
  • Argentina: Cueva de las Manos, Río Pinturas; Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba; Quebrada de Humahuaca; Iguazu National Park;
  • Australia: Shark Bay, Western Australia; Greater Blue Mountains Area; Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens; Willandra Lakes Region; Kakadu National Park;
  • Austria / Hungary: Fertö / Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape;
  • Bangladesh: The Sundarbans; Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur;
  • Belgium : La Grand-Place, Brussels;
  • Belgium / France: Belfries of Belgium and France;
  • Bolivia: Fuerte de Samaipata; Tiwanaku: Spiritual and Political Centre of the Tiwanaku Culture; Historic City of Sucre; Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos;
  • Brazil: Serra da Capivara National Park;
  • Chile: Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works; Rapa Nui National Park; Churches of Chiloé; Sewell Mining Town; Historic quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaiso;
  • China: Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area; Mount Huangshan; Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples, Chengde; Ancient City of Ping Yao; Classical Gardens of Suzhou; Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing; Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun; Longmen Grottoes; Yungang Grottoes; Yin Xu; Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties; Historic center of Macao; Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor;
  • Colombia: Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena; Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox; San Agustín Archaeological Park; National Archeological Park of Tierradentro;
  • Costa Rica: Area de Conservación Guanacaste;
  • Cuba: Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios; Desembarco del Granma National Park; Alejandro de Humboldt National Park; Old Havana;
  • Cyprus: Choirokoitia; Painted Churches in the Troodos Region;
  • Denmark: Kronborg Castle;
  • Ecuador: City of Quito; Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca; Galápagos Islands;
  • El Salvador: Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site;
  • Ethiopia: Aksum; Fasil Ghebbi;
  • Finland / Sweden: High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago;
  • Guatemala: Archeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua; Antigua Guatemala;
  • Germany: Classical Weimar; Messel Pit Fossil Site; Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier; Aachen Cathedral; Cologne Cathedral; Hanseatic City of Lübeck; Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar; Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin; Old town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof; Speyer Cathedral; Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen; Town of Bamberg;
  • Greece: Mount Athos;
  • Honduras: Maya Site of Copan;
  • Hungary: Old Village of Hollókő and its Surroundings; Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma and its Natural Environment; Early Christian Necropolis of Pécs (Sopianae); Tokaj Wine Region Historic Cultural Landscape; Hortobágy National Park - the Puszta; Budapest, including the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue;
  • Hungary / Slovakia: Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst;
  • India: Sun Temple, Konârak; Group of Monuments at Hampi; Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya; Elephanta Caves; Great Living Chola Temples; Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus); Mountain Railways of India;
  • Indonesia: Ujung Kulon National Park; Komodo National Park; Lorentz National Park; Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra; Sangiran Early Man Site;
  • Iran (Islamic Republic of): Pasargadae; Takht-e Soleyman;
  • Ireland: Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne;
  • Italy: Venice and its Lagoon;
  • Japan: Yakushima; Shirakami-Sanchi; Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area; Shiretoko; Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities); Shrines and Temples of Nikko; Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range; Itsukushima Shinto Shrine; Himeji-jo;
  • Latvia: Historic Centre of Riga;
  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Town of Luang Prabang;
  • Lithuania: Vilnius Historic Centre;
  • Luxembourg: City of Luxembourg: its Old Quarters and Fortifications;
  • Malaysia: Kinabalu Park;
  • Mauritius: Aapravasi Ghat;
  • Mexico: Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan; Historic Centre of Morelia; Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl; Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro; Historic Fortified Town of Campeche; Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro; Agave Landscape and the Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila; Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino; Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche; Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco; Historic Monuments Zone of Tlacotalpan; Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza; Historic Centre of Zacatecas; Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán; Sian Ka’an; Luis Barragán House and Studio; Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco; Archaeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes; Historic Centre of Puebla; Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines; Pre-hispanic town of Uxmal; Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara; Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California; Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco; Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque; El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City;
  • Netherlands: Ir.D.F. Woudagemaal (D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station); Schokland and Surroundings; Droogmakerij de Beemster (Beemster Polder); Rietveld Schröderhuis (Rietveld Schröder House);
  • Nicaragua: Ruins of León Viejo;
  • Nigeria: Sukur Cultural Landscape;
  • Norway: Rock Art of Alta; Urnes Stave Church; Bryggen;
  • Oman: Archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn;
  • Pakistan: Taxila; Historical Monuments at Makli, Thatta; Rohtas Fort; Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol;
  • Panama: Darien National Park; Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá;
  • Paraguay: Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue;
  • Peru: City of Cuzco; Chavin (Archaeological Site); Historic Centre of Lima; Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu;
  • Philippines: Historic town of Vigan;
  • South Africa: uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park;
  • Switzerland: Abbey of St Gall; Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair; Old City of Berne; Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzona;
  • Thailand: Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex; Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries; Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns; Ban Chiang Archaeological Site;
  • Turkey: Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia; Nemrut Dağ; Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği; Hierapolis-Pamukkale;
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: Blaenavon Industrial Landscape; Blenheim Palace; Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church; Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd; City of Bath; Durham Castle and Cathedral; Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast; Heart of Neolithic Orkney; Ironbridge Gorge; Maritime Greenwich; New Lanark; Old and New Towns of Edinburgh; Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites; Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey; Tower of London; St Kilda; Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Church;
  • Uruguay: Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento;
  • Uzbekistan: Itchan Kala;
  • Venezuela : Coro and its Port; Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas;

4.  Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies in priority;

5.  Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely:

  • World Heritage properties in the Arab States;
  • World Heritage properties in Africa;
  • World Heritage properties in Asia and the Pacific;
  • World Heritage properties in Latin America and the Caribbean;
  • World Heritage properties in Europe and North America;

6.  Requests the World Heritage Centre to harmonise all sub-headings in the adopted Statements of Outstanding Universal Value where appropriate and when resources and staff time allow to carry out this work;

7.  Also requests the State Parties, Advisory Bodies and World Heritage Centre to ensure the use of gender-neutral language in the Statements proposed for adoption to the World Heritage Committee;

8.  Further requests the World Heritage Centre to keep the adopted Statements in line with subsequent decisions by the World Heritage Committee concerning name changes of World Heritage properties, and to reflect them throughout the text of the Statements, in consultation with States Parties and Advisory Bodies;

9.  Finally requests the States Parties to provide support to the World Heritage Centre for translation of the adopted Statements of Outstanding Universal Value into English or French respectively, and finally requests the Centre to upload these onto its web-pages.

Draft Decision:   37 COM 7B.28

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7C, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Regrets that the State Party did not keep the Committee fully informed about the Runkerry golf resort development prior to any decisions being taken that are difficult to reverse, in line with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

4.  Reiterates its request to the State Party to halt the proposed golf resort development project until its potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has been thoroughly assessed;

5.  Invites the State Party to consult the World Heritage Centre and IUCN on potential modifications and alternatives to the golf resort development project to avoid adverse impacts on the OUV of the property;

6.  Strongly encourages the State Party to consider strengthening its legal provisions and planning framework to allow the national authorities to ensure their responsibilities for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention at the national level regarding planned developments that could potentially impact on its World Heritage properties, and by ensuring that potential impacts on the OUV of any World Heritage property located on its territory be adequately assessed as part of the required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for such developments, or through a specific Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), and to also ensure that developments that adversely impact OUV are not permitted;

7.  Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, a report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above requests, as well as a copy of the EIA of the proposed Runkerry golf resort development, including a thorough assessment of its impacts on the OUV of the property.

 

Report year: 2013
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Date of Inscription: 1986
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 37COM (2013)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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