Northern Ireland

Bushmills Dunes project very exciting: Peter Alliss

Grass-covered sand dunes
Image caption The planned course is close to the Giant's Causeway

The voice of golf on the BBC has said the proposed £100m golf resort on Northern Ireland's north coast is "a very exciting project".

The Bushmills Dunes golf course and hotel complex at Runkerry, close to the Giant's Causeway, was given the go-ahead on Tuesday.

Peter Alliss, who commentates on the sport for the BBC, said he felt the resort could be a success.

"I'm always excited when a new project, a new course of quality, is about to happen," Mr Alliss said.

"Because of various regulations over the years, opportunities to make a golf course in that kind of spectacular area are very few and far between."

The north coast is already home to a number of golf courses, with the most famous being Royal Portrush.

However, Mr Alliss said that did not mean there was not room for another.

"You've got some beautiful golf courses in that area. Will it take another one? Probably yes," he said.

"If you look along the coast east of Edinburgh there's a gaggle of courses and in the last 10 or 12 years they've built two more right next door to Muirfield Golf Course.

"I thought they were mad. The economic decline came just after they started doing them so they have not become multi, multi-million pound successes, but they are successful. I think that could happen in Portrush."

While Royal Portrush is to host this year's Irish Open and is hopeful of attracting other big tournaments on the back of the success of Northern Irish golfers Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, there have been concerns raised about whether the region can facilitate large numbers of visitors.

Mr Alliss said having another hotel would help.

"Portrush is lovely, it's a lovely area, but it's rather like Blackpool and Lytham St Annes were years ago - it's full of Mrs Brown's b&bs and there's no big hotel," he said.

"So you've got a 120-bed hotel (in the resort plans)."

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