A "significant advance" has been made in the controversial Coul Links golf course project, according to its developers.
Those behind the project claimed this week that a resolution had been reached with Scottish Natural Heritage over one of its two objections to the scheme.
The move follows the formation of a more detailed Recreation and Access Management Plan (RAMP) relating to the links site, near Embo.
The RAMP covers key issues including those relating to potential bird disturbance and, as a result, all outstanding ornithological objections raised by statutory bodies have now been successfully resolved, claimed developers.
US businessman Todd Warnock, who has linked up with golf course developer Mike Keiser to spearhead the project, said: "Our team has been working closely with SNH to resolve issues in the RAMP. SNH has stated that they considered it likely these issues could be resolved and we are pleased to have concluded this effort."
An SNH spokesperson told the Northern Times: "Since providing our advice to the Highland Council late last year, we have continued to work closely with the developer and their consultants to develop a Recreation and Access Management Plan to protect wintering and breeding birds on and near the proposed golf course. We hope to soon agree this plan with the developer." However, opposition to the scheme – part of which would be on a Site of Special Scientific Interest – is still formidable.
A petition against the course this week topped 87,000 – more than six times the population of Sutherland. Further discussions are continuing with SNH.rch.