ENVIRONMENTAL groups have voiced concerns that proposals to build a new golf course at Coul Links in Sutherland could be “environmentally damaging”.

The coalition of groups, consisting of National Trust for Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Marine Conservation Society, Plantlife, Butterfly Conservation and Buglife previously campaigned over a period of four years when a golf development was initially proposed in this location.

The Scottish Government previously rejected the developer's plans, citing the "significant" negative effects on rare plant life, wintering and breeding birds and the dunes.

However, now the developer C4C has submitted notice to Highland Council, stating they intend to put forward a new planning application for the construction of an 18-hole golf course at Coul Links.

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C4C claim that changes to the initial design have been made to “address the environmental aspects” which were raised in previous plans, and argue that local people are in favour of the proposals.

However, the environmental coalition stated that they remain “hugely concerned” that irreparable harm would be done to the inhabiting wildlife of the dunes. It said that people “need to learn the lessons” from the irreparable damage caused by Trump International, when a separate golf development was permitted on dunes at Menie in Aberdeenshire.

“Coul Links is a beautiful, natural, coastal dune and one of the last areas of undeveloped species-rich dune habitat in Scotland”, the RSPB stated in a blog on their website. 

“Inappropriate development on the site would mean wildlife would no longer be able to freely move between the remaining fragmented pockets of dune habitats. 

“Many of the birds and other animals that currently use the site would be scared off by increased and regular human presence and be unlikely to return.

“We are facing a nature and climate emergency. Ensuring damaging developments cannot take place in existing protected areas is critical to addressing this.”