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Not Coul campaigners to speak at Scottish Parliament event


By Caroline McMorran

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Ariane Burgess, Scottish Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has met with members of Not Coul, the local group who have been campaigning since 2016 against plans for a golf course at Coul Links, near Embo.

The campaigners, all residents of Embo and Dornoch, will also speak at an event Ms Burgess is hosting in Parliament next month to highlight the challenges local communities face in navigating the planning system, especially when they’re up against well-financed developers.

Not Coul is a local grassroots effort to preserve the landscape at Coul Links which members say is "rare and precious" and which has national and international significance.

Ariane Burgess.
Ariane Burgess.

Ms Burgess is urging Scottish Government ministers to call in Highland Council's decision to grant planning permission for Coul Links Golf Course. Her campaign has already generated the support of more than 4,300 people.

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

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

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Ms Burgess said: “It’s immensely frustrating for community groups like Not Coul to have to keep fighting inappropriate developments like this, particularly when their voice and concerns are overlooked by others claiming to speak for them.

"Communities for Coul (the group behind the Coul Links project) has been clear that it will hand over planning permission to a private developer, Mike Keiser, who has a long history of controversial coastal and links development in Oregon, Nova Scotia, Wisconsin, and Tasmania.

“Not Coul’s members include scientists, greenkeepers and management professionals, all of whom know the site well and whose voices should be amplified by their representatives, not ignored. They live and breathe climate change response and biodiversity protection every day in all that they do. It is only right that they are heard and understood.”

Commenting for Not Coul, Andrew Mackay said: “We have many world-class golf courses not far away that have far more potential for growth. Coul Links is a dune wilderness loved by local people and visitors alike; it enriches lives and refreshes the soul - an asset that decades of economic wealth could not afford to buy.”

C4C director Gordon Sutherland has previously said that the plans for a golf course at Coul Links "provide a guaranteed future for the wonderful, wild coastal environment of Coul Links, which is currently sadly neglected and at risk".


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