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Green MSP Ariane Burgess raises Coul Links decision at First Minister's Questions


By Caroline McMorran

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Scottish Ministers must urgently review Highland Council’s “nature wrecking” decision to give the go-ahead to a golf course development that would destroy the environmentally sensitive site at Coul Links near Embo, say the Scottish Greens.

Ariane Burgess, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, raised the decision at First Minister’s Questions yesterday, and urged First Minister Humza Yousaf to confirm that it will now be ‘called in’ to Ministers for review.

She also asked him to reaffirm the Scottish Government’s commitment to upholding all international treaty obligations and environmental protections.

Ariane Burgess, Scottish Green Party. Picture: James Mackenzie
Ariane Burgess, Scottish Green Party. Picture: James Mackenzie

The controversial development, which Ms Burgess has previously described as “totally inappropriate”, has been opposed by NatureScot and planning officials due to the impact it would have on the local environment and biodiversity.

The area forms part of the Loch Fleet Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet Special Protection Area.

Objections have been raised by RSPB Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and others.

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Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Burgess said: “Yesterday, Highland Council granted planning consent for a golf course on Coul Links, an internationally recognised Ramsar site and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

“This was despite an objection from NatureScot and planning officers recommending refusal on the basis of conflict with National Planning Framework 4 policies 3, 4 and 10.

Ms Burgess concluded: “Will the First Minister confirm that this decision will now be referred to Ministers and reaffirm the Scottish Government’s commitment to respect all international treaty obligations, including the Ramsar convention?”

The First Minister said he could not comment on potential live issues, but expected local authorities to follow strict guidance on nature and environmental matters.

Around 750 objections were received to the planning bid before it was approved.


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