Plans for a visitor centre at a North Clare Cave which reputedly has the largest free standing stalactite in the world have been given the green light.
An Bord Pleanala granted planning permission for the development at Pol an Ionain amid strong opposition from heritage groups and the nearby Ailwee Cave.
After a 16 year long planning battle the owners of Pol an Ionain John and Helen Browne opened the cave to the public three years ago.
However, the planning permission didn’t include any visitor centre and tourists were bussed to the north Clare attraction.
Then earlier this year the Brownes applied to develop car parking and other facilities and Clare County Council gave it the thumbs up but opponents claimed the owners failed to justify the development and claimed it may affect the wellbeing and future growth of the stalactite.
However rejecting the appeals the An Bord Pleanala inspector ruled the impact on the physical integrity of the Great Stal wouldn’t be significant…would not result in water pollution and wouldn’t prejudice public health.
The board also ruled that visitor numbers are not to exceed 55,000 visitors per annum.