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Coul Links debate – AGAINST: 'Harm to landscape and access to vital dunes'

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Brendan Paddy, director of Ramblers Scotland said:

I’m proud that concerned locals united with Scotland’s conservation and outdoors communities to save Coul Links just three years ago.

We are extremely concerned that these internationally-protected dunes are again under threat, despite such a similar application being recently rejected at public inquiry. In fact, some documents have simply been resubmitted.

This appalling plan would permanently transform Coul Links, while harming the natural landscape and access. It’s no surprise there is significant local opposition within the Dornoch Firth, including an active campaign group and many local objections.

The company behind the new bid is making bold claims about jobs, access and its environmental credentials. Yet the more we learn about the true nature of the plans, the more fearful we are. It is also worth carefully considering the history of similar recent golf developments in Scotland, including whether they delivered against developers’ promises.

We are concerned by this developer’s worrying lack of understanding of Scottish access rights. Several holes would cross the John O’Groats Trail, a core path and the first-ever off-road route linking Inverness with John O’Groats. By creating fairways and greens, walkers’ access would be significantly limited. And two holes would be incredibly close to the informal path that hugs the coastal fringe of the dunes.

The plan also conflicts with the Scottish Government’s new National Planning Framework 4. This came into effect in February 2023 and aims to tackle the climate and nature crises.

Coul Links’ remarkable landscape has huge value for residents and visitors seeking to access and enjoy these tranquil dunes. It should not be simply up for sale to the highest bidder.

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