Up to 500 people gathered at the Hellfire Club yesterday to show their opposition to South Dublin County Council plans to build a visitor centre and triple visitor numbers at the site to 300,000 a year.
Save The Hellfire campaign is made up of local residents, landowners, conservationists and hill-walkers who believe the council’s plans would be over-development and destroy what is a unique part of Dublin.
Group organiser Elizabeth Davidson explained why they are opposed to the €19m project.
“There is a huge groundswell of people who are against this development.
“They don’t want this beautiful environment spoiled in favour of commercial development.
“People come up here to relax, clear their head, walk the dog and bring their family out for a lovely free day and they don’t want to see it commercialised.
“This delicate environment will not tolerate 300,000 people visiting it.
“However, it will tolerate the people who visit it at the moment, who come in their hundreds at the weekend, the people of Dublin.
“Why should we be penalised? Come and walk, absolutely, but don’t turn it into a commercial centre.”
The group will hold further discussions with South Dublin County Council on the issue in the next few weeks.
The proposed development would be part of the Dublin Mountains Project and the visitor centre would include an 80-seater restaurant, a ramblers’ lounge, a retail unit, a seminar room and a display area.
The current Hell Fire car park would be expanded by cutting down many of the trees.
Mayor of South Dublin Guss O’Connell said current car parking facilities are inadequate for 80,000 visitors each year and that “something needs to be done”.
An Bord Pleanála has ruled that a full Environmental Impact Statement is needed and the council said this will be ready by the end of July.
The council added that the design proposal is being finalised.