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Green light for Coul Links would be 'life-enhancing' for East Sutherland, says Runrig star Rory MacDonald

By Caroline McMorran

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A FORMER member of Celtic rock legends Runrig has written to Highland Council in support of the controversial Coul Links development.

Rory MacDonald, who lives in Dornoch, said that the creation of a championship golf course at Coul Links, near Embo, would make an enormous difference to the “people of East Sutherland, their future prosperity and wellbeing”.

Coul Links.
Coul Links.

A planning application for the golf course has been lodged with the local authority by Communities for Coul (C4C).

Mr MacDonald said: “Although I am retired, a non-golfer, and with no vested interest whatsoever, I so wish this to happen – the alternative, at this juncture, is actually unthinkable.”

C4C has said its plans were “enabled and guided” by the environmental concerns raised when a previous, entirely separate bid was rejected by Scottish Ministers following a public inquiry in 2020.

The group argues its proposals now offer the “best chance” for the wild coastal environment at Coul Links to retain its Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) status.

However the proposal is facing considerable opposition from a range of environmental organisations and individuals with NatureScot coming out against it earlier this week.


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Mr MacDonald continued: “The Highlands, especially Sutherland, has experienced a long history of neglect and de-population.

"Indeed, the untold miseries of the Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries still resonate; it’s a wound and a legacy that continues to define, even now, as many of the young continue to leave due to lack of employment opportunities.

“The exciting part of this for me, also as a walker and a nature lover, is that the dune system and waterways will be restored and managed in a manner significantly beyond the present status quo where neglect is visibly evident, showing unmanaged incursion of invasive species and signs of stagnation within the water systems.”

A community ballot held by C4C in June 2021 demonstrated a high level of local support for the plan, with a 44.4 per cent turn-out and a 69.2 per cent vote in favour.

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