Published Friday, 24 May 2013
The United Nations agency says plans to start work at the Bushmill Dunes site on the North Coast of Northern Ireland this autumn should not be allowed to proceed, due to concerns over the possible adverse impact it could have on the area.
It comes after a failed legal challenge by the National Trust.
A new report from Unesco claims: "Given the scale and location of the proposed golf resort development, it is recommended that it should not be permitted as 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 Outstanding Universal Value."
Environment Minister Alex Attwood invited Unesco to inspect the Runkerry site before February's judicial review, which found in favour of the department.
The IUCN know that it is my view that the report contains various erroneous assertions and comments about the planning process here and my decision, contradicting the decision reached by the High Court earlier this year.
The green light for the development was given and Mr Attwood has defended his decision, saying he is "committed" to protecting the world heritage site.
He continued: "I and my department worked with the IUCN around the visit. I met their representative and I provided every facility to their representative to see the World Heritage Site and to provide advice on the overall conservation of that site.
"As Environment Minister I believe I have unambiguously demonstrated my commitment to heritage and my commitment to positive development of our wonderful heritage assets to create sustainable growth in these hard times."
Up to 360 jobs could be created at the new 18-hole championship course golf resort which also includes a 120-bedroom hotel and spa, as well as 70 lodges.
The National Trust has indicated that it will not appeal the High Court's decision.
However NI director Heather Thompson said it will take steps to influence changes to planning laws going through the Assembly go give World Heritage Sites full protection.
She said: "Protecting our only World Heritage Site and other special landscapes in Northern Ireland can only be served by fixing our broken planning system."
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