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Environmental coalition voices concern over renewed Coul Links golf course plan

By Caroline McMorran

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A COALITION of seven environmental organisations has expressed concern over new plans for a golf course at Coul Links in East Sutherland.

Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife, Marine Conservation Society, the National Trust for Scotland, RSPB Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust previously campaigned against the original Coul Links application, which was rejected on environmental grounds in February 2020 following a public enquiry.

An aerial view of Coul Links. Picture: Craig Allardyce
An aerial view of Coul Links. Picture: Craig Allardyce

Behind the fresh drive to achieve a championship course at Coul Links is Communities4Coul (C4C).

The group submitted a Proposal of Application Notice to Highland Council last month. This notice lets the council know that it is intended to sumbit a new planning application for the construction of an 18-hole course.

C4C says the course will be sited on less than one per sent of the Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest and a key aspect of its proposal is a comprehensive plan to restore and protect the area, which it claims is deteriorating.

RELATED: Public exhibition to be held in Embo next month on Coul Links golf course plan

However, the conservation coalition says it remains concerned about the impact any development of this type and scale would have on the international and national protected areas.

It contacted C4C to outline its concerns in spring last year when plans to build the course were publicly announced and expressed concerns again when the plans reached the scoping stage earlier this year.

Bruce Wilson, of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “It’s incredibly disappointing to see that these new plans don’t appear to address the environmental concerns that were part of the previous refusal.

“The Scottish Government refused the last proposal in February 2020 because of the significant impacts it would have had on the international and national conservation designations, adversely affecting wintering and breeding birds, invertebrates, and rare vegetation types – even after mitigation – due to disturbance and habitat loss.

“Since then, part of the dunes at Menie, where Donald Trump was allowed to build a golf course despite many concerns being raised, have lost their protected status due to the damage caused by another insensitive development.

“We are in a nature and climate emergency. Ensuring protected areas are respected is a critical part of tackling these crises. Developers shouldn’t be pursuing environmentally damaging proposals that put Scotland’s special places for wildlife at risk.

“The members of the conservation coalition will be considering the proposals carefully before submitting comments.”

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