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'Our plans will not limit access': Communities for Coul responds to walkers' fears over Coul Links


By Caroline McMorran

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The community group behind plans for a championship golf course at Coul Links has responded to concerns expressed by a walkers’ charity over access to the land.

And Communities for Coul (C4C) has offered to meet Ramblers Scotland to discuss its fears.

Ramblers Scotland said seven holes of the proposed new 18-hole course would cross the John O’Groats Trail, a long-distance route designated as a core path by Highland Council.

Coul Links’ dunes run alongside the Loch Fleet basin. The site is a Special Protection Area for birds and designated under the international Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Part of the proposed course lies within Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Coul Links’ dunes run alongside the Loch Fleet basin. The site is a Special Protection Area for birds and designated under the international Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Part of the proposed course lies within Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The charity said: “This would make it hard for walkers and other visitors to avoid interfering with play at busy times.”

The organisation added: “Ramblers Scotland is concerned by many details within the application, including a lack of understanding of the way that Scottish access rights apply on golf courses.

“One document suggests that walkers will be restricted to using a single path and that work to create a public access plan will only begin after the course is completed.”

But a spokesman for Communities for Coul (C4C) said: “Our plans will in no way limit access for ramblers or other visitors who want to enjoy the natural beauty of Coul Links.

“In fact, they will make the site considerably more accessible for more people to be able to walk there.

“They have also been carefully drawn up with the aim of restoring the area’s unique environmental features, which are rapidly being destroyed by the spread of invasive species, reducing the distinctiveness and biodiversity of the dune system.

“Throughout the process of developing these completely new plans, we have focused on how best to address the environmental concerns that have been raised previously.

“We would be delighted to meet Ramblers Scotland to ensure they and their members are fully informed about our plans, which offer much-needed economic opportunities for our area."

C4C added: “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 turnout and a 69.2 per cent vote in favour.”


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