A judge dismisses a legal challenge from the National Trust and allows the construction of a 100m golf course near the famous Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

A judge dismisses a legal challenge from the National Trust to allow the construction of a £100m golf course near the famous Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland (Getty)

The National Trust had argued that the project could have a serious impact on the Unesco-designated world heritage site.

But it was given the go-ahead by Mr Justice Weatherup, more than a decade after the initial planning application was submitted.

Sitting in Belfast, he endorsed last year's decision by Northern Ireland Environment Minister Alex Attwood to allow the building of a championship golf course and five star hotel in Runkerry, outside the village of Bushmills in County Antrim.

The Giant's Causeway, an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns which are the result of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, and one of Northern Ireland's main tourist attractions - is a mile-and-a-half away.

'Bitterly disappointed'

The National Trust said it was "bitterly disappointed ... and remain convinced that a massive development in the setting of this world heritage site is wrong".

It added: "We still believe that if a development of this scale does go ahead in this location, the message is that nowhere in Northern Ireland, no matter how important or protected, is safe from development."

Northern Ireland Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: "Today's decision is great news for tourism in Northern Ireland and it is great news for the economy.

'Economic benefits'

"The development will bring economic benefits and much needed jobs to the north coast. A five star hotel and accompanying links golf course will attract tourists from all over the world, particularly from North America, which is a primary target market for resorts of this type."

The 18-hole Bushmills Dunes Golf Resort and Spa will be the first course built in Northern Ireland for almost a hundred years.

It will include a 120-bedroom hotel and is expected to create 360 direct jobs and attract large numbers of overseas visitors.

The designer, Scotsman David McLay Kidd, says the complex will be environmentally sensitive.

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