From the BBC:
Environment Minister Arlene Foster has refused a developer’s application for a privately funded visitors’ centre at the Giant’s Causeway. Mrs Foster told the assembly that she saw some merits in Seymour Sweeney’s proposal. But she said that she had to turn it down on planning grounds.
The Causeway become widely known as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ from the 1700s when large numbers of visitor’s came to view this amazing array of basalt columns, it is estimated that there are around 40,000 in total. Today’s visitor is free to wander over the stones but it was not always the case. Growing worldwide fame brought increasing numbers of visitors which inspired a syndicate to engage in a profitable charge’scheme to view the stones at close hand. For over a century prior to this scheme, There had been disputes of access and ownership, the stones have been fenced off, access denied and several legal challenges made. However, in 1897 one lengthy legal battle between this syndicate and local people who objected took place, the High Court in London recognised that a road to the stones had existed for public access to the foreshore but turned down recognition of access over the stones. The Giants Causeway Company subsequently improved the site, fenced off the stones and levied a charge to view them at close hand. The Causeway came into public ownership in 1963 when it was bought by the National Trust but it is thanks to a small band of people who stood up for an ancient right of way in the late 1800’s that has led to this free access today. A house once stood at the point where the mini-bus now turns round, a caretaker lived there to monitor the stones and turnstile, through the Giants Gate was a Victorian tea room – both have long since gone. There is nothing left of a two hundred year old tradition that existed amongst local people, who would set up small stalls along the pathway that leads to the causeway or the guides who would show you round or the boatmen who would row you round to Portcoon Cave or round past the Causeway to view the spectacular Amphitheatre.