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Community group formed to revive Coul Links golf plan

By Caroline McMorran

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A NEW community group has been formed to revive the failed Coul Links championship golf course plan.

Supporters of the project living in an area from Brora to Tain have established Communities for Coul (C4C), which is formalising itself as a not-for-profit community interest company.

Highland Council favoured the original Coul Links plan.
Highland Council favoured the original Coul Links plan.

The group launched its new website (www.communities4coul.scot) and social media presence this week, and intends later in the year to submit a planning application not just for a golf course, but also for an eco lodge-style hotel.

Talks have been held with private investors who have shown an interest in the multi-million pound development.

The move is yet another surprise twist in the Coul Links story, which saw a planning application initially put forward by American inward investor Todd Warnock and business partners find favour with Highland Council in June 2018.

However, strong opposition from environmental and conservation groups led to the application being called in by the Scottish Government and turned down in February last year following a planning enquiry.

In October an initial attempt to resurrect the plan was made with a “screening request” for a similar development lodged with Highland Council in the name of defunct Embo Junior Football and Athletic Club.

It emerged that East Sutherland and Edderton ward councillor Jim McGillivray was behind this move, but he is not part of Communities for Coul, although he is being kept informed.

He told the Northern Times: “I am not involved as yet in the present Coul initiative but am kept in the general loop. It is interesting to see others step forward as I thought I was ploughing a lone furrow.”

At the time Highland Council warned it was in its discretionary powers to refuse to determine a repeat planning application should it be submitted within two years of a previous one being refused.

In a group statement issued this week, C4C stated the area had been hard hit by the pandemic and members were being driven by the need to create employment for young people locally.

It is anticipated that up to 150 jobs could be created.

The statement read: “Fundamentally our cause is to support our communities through the creation of a great golf course.

“We believe a solid majority of local people support the development of a world class golf course at Coul Links.”

Among the members of Communities for Coul are Brora Golf Club president Andy Stewart, Jimmy Yuill, Golsopie, and Gordon Sutherland, Dornoch.

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