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'This is not the end': Campaign group Not Coul react to Coul Links planning consent


By Caroline McMorran

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Dr Tom Dargie of campaign group Not Coul has said today's decision by the North Planning Applications Committee (NPAC) to grant consent to Coul Links golf course was a "serious disappointment" but it was not unexpected and nor was it the end.

Dr Dargie said: "Not Coul members have campaigned since 2016 against this development. That is more than seven years of opposition to a scheme which will significantly harm ground within a highly protected site at Loch Fleet in Sutherland.

Kidney Vetch, Coul Links and Embo Beach. Picture: Andrew Weston
Kidney Vetch, Coul Links and Embo Beach. Picture: Andrew Weston

"Worldwide, national and local issues of nature are often hard to see clearly, even in the cold light of day.

"Today, NPAC as a whole failed to achieved that clarity, voting 8: 6 to approve the development. Overall, it has ignored the policies set out in Scotland’s new leading edge Planning Framework, NPF4. That puts climate and nature at the front. It’s not an option but part of the law.

"Today, an NPAC majority ignored the law and the recommendation of its senior planning officer, granting planning permission for this golf development.

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"Opposition does not stop here. NPAC made the same decision in June 2018, 15 votes to one. It is now likely that the planning application will be called in by Scottish Ministers because NatureScot has maintained an objection. Not Coul will be part of an all-Scotland call-in campaign.

"One outcome could be a second Public Local Inquiry, like the lengthy one over four weeks in early 2019. If that happens, Not Coul will be a party opposing again and expecting the same result as February 2020 – the Scottish Government refusing planning permission.

"And even then, when golf will be finally defeated, nature at Coul will need sympathetic change.

"The 1400 plus species there will need an extended SSSI and Ramsar protection. A long-term management plan will be needed to cover new protected boundaries and enhanced access, to the satisfaction of all stakeholders and favourable condition for site biodiversity.

"The funds to achieve all that are available now. Not Coul is willing to be part of that process."

Not Coul can be contacted via www.notcoul.org


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