Coul Links golf course refused planning permission by ministers
BBC news 21 February 2020
A controversial plan to build an 18-hole championship golf course in the Highlands has been refused planning permission by the Scottish government.
About 32 acres of the planned course was proposed for dunes at Coul Links at Embo, near Dornoch.
Highland councillors gave the project the go-ahead last June, before Scottish ministers called in the planning application for further scrutiny.
Following a public inquiry, the government has refused permission.
In their decision, Scottish ministers said the plan would have supported economic growth and rural development.
But they agreed with government-appointed planning officials' findings that the golf course would have "significant" effects on rare plantlife, wintering and breeding birds and the the dunes themselves.
The government said the "likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal".
Scottish Green Party MSP John Finnie commented on the decision
“I am absolutely delighted that this ill thought out and unsuitable application has been rejected. It seems the Scottish Government has learned the lesson from the disastrous decision to grant permission for Trump’s course in Aberdeenshire after all.
“Coul links is a spectacular site of environmental significance and has several important international designations. I welcome the fact that Ministers have made clear that post Brexit they will seek to maintain high environmental standards, they can be assured that Greens will continue to keep them under scrutiny in that regard in the long term.
“It’s important that the Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise now look at how they can deliver long term, sustainable and well paid work for the people of Sutherland, without threatening its precious environment.”
Image - Julian Paren
Image - BBC News
Planning application for golf course at Coul Links, Embo
The application was lodged in September 2017 by Coul Links Ltd. led by Mike Keiser, President of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Oregon, Trump Golf’s main global rival, & entrepreneur Todd Warnock. There is a separate application for two boreholes and a reservoir to store water for irrigating the golf course.
The site is an area of natural dunes of considerable scientific and environmental value, and is ajacent to or includes Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), The Dornoch and Loch Fleet Special Protection Area (SPA), and the Dornoch and Loch Fleet Ramsar Site.
A group opposed to the development set up a 38 Degrees petiton to rally opposition to the applications. This has been presented to Highland Council, who approved the applications in June against the advice of planning officials, but since the applications were called in it is being kept open to be presented to the public enquiry.
Below are links to the Highland Council ePlanning pages relating to the applications, and the petition.
Coul links golf course planning application 17/04601/FUL
Reservoir planning application 17/04404/FUL
NOT COUL petition (and more information)
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