To Minister John Gormley TD

Dept of Environment

Custom House                                                                                      7th April 2008

Dublin 2



Proposal for a Special Amenity Area Order

for the Wicklow Coastal Walk



1.    By the powers granted to the Minister under Part XIII section 202 subsection (2) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, the Minister for the Environment can direct Wicklow County Council to make an order that The Murrough and Wicklow Head be declared an area of Special Amenity by reason of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Special Recreational Value. The areas concerned are those areas that are defined in the map attached.


2.    The Department could facilitate the appointment and funding of a Special Projects Heritage Officer with appropriate qualifications in the built and/or natural environment for the project.


3.    The objectives of the SAAO would be to ensure a sustainable future for the Murrough including Broadlough and from the Black Castle in Wicklow Town to Wicklow Head through appropriate protection and development for conservation, recreation and education objectives.


       See  appendix.


4.    Opportunities


*     The landscape is of outstanding natural beauty, a habitat for many protected flora and fauna, and in parts has a natural tranquility rare in        an area so close to the town and with rail access from Dublin.  The opportunities for tourism and recreation are manifest.


*     New environs plan proposes walks from Rathnew village to the Broadlough        area with access over the river to join the coastal walk. This would complement our proposal.

*     Tourism strategy is currently being prepared.

*     To date the following groups have offered their support for these proposals: An Taisce, An Tairseach, BirdWatch Ireland, Inbhear Dee Athletics Club, Keep Ireland Open, Mountain Council of Ireland, Wicklow Planning Alliance, Wicklow Tidy Towns. The following public representative and well-known individuals have signed the petition and / or offered their support: Dep. Joe Behan, Dep. Liz McManus, Sen. Deirdre de Burca, Sen. Shane Ross, Caothairleach Anne Ferris, Cllr. Pat Casey, Cllr. Tom Fortune, Cllr. Conal Kavanagh, Cllr. Nicky Kelly, Cllr. Derek Mitchell, Cllr. Ciaran O’Brien, Cllr. Jimmy Shaughnessy, Cllr. Irene Winters, Éamon de Buitlear. A list of supporters is attached.  




5.    Existing issues


*     The “Broadlough Nature Park” report (1996) outlines damage to the ecology of the area (attached).

*     Coastal erosion.

*     Fencing of lands around commercial development blocks access to walking routes regularly used close to Wicklow Town.

*     Existing route has been rendered almost impassable due to general deterioration.

 *    Failure to respect right of way by CIE, in fencing land in the vicinity of the railway line.

*     Loss of land to new roads and sewage treatment plant.


6.    The strategy to achieve these objectives:


*     Development of a Management Plan involving all stakeholders including land owners, local communities and schools, angling and sporting organisations etc.

*     Public Right of Way mapped along the coastal path from Wicklow Head to Bray Head to include cycle path.

*     Construction of boardwalks where necessary and appropriate to protect and strengthen the vulnerable coastal, cliff and lakeside paths.

*     Educational and interpretive signs, benches, disability access, etc.

*     Proper access points to meet the coastal route at Killoughter, Five Mile Point, Newcastle and Kilcoole and other suitable points.

*     Development of BirdWatch Ireland educational facilities in Newcastle.

*     Development of facilities for Angling clubs at the above mentioned access points.

*     Development of circular/loop walk close to Wicklow town along existing coastal path, turning inland along the avenue towards Broadlough House, then turning south towards Wicklow Town along the bank of the river to the existing car park. 

*     Create an access point from the existing river walk at the old Veha site under/over the railway line and new port road to join up with proposed circular pathway.

*     Restore damaged areas of cliff walk from Black Castle (Wicklow Town) to Wicklow Head.

*     Facilities, such as observatory, for bird watching at tip of the Murrough promontory.

*     Tree preservation orders where necessary and replanting The Avenue from the railway to the lake opposite Broadlough House.

*     The appendix attached indicates a schedule of objectives to preserve and enhance the character and special features of the area, to prevent and limit inappropriate development, and to develop recreational and educational amenities.


It is our wish that you may investigate our proposal further and give serious consideration to the granting of an Order before the condition of this beautiful land deteriorates further.



Yours truly,





Malcolm Spencer,





Co. Wicklow.