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Scottish Government calls in controversial Coul Links golf course proposal

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The group said the site had become “so degraded that it needs the very best in 21st century conservation to restore and protect it”.

It added that having the course on “about 0.1%” of the SSSI would generate enough cash to restore and protect the whole area.

READ MORE: RSPB Scotland urges Scottish Government to refuse golf course plans

The scheme has been strongly objected to by the seven members of the ‘Conservation Coalition’ – Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, Marine Conservation Society, National Trust for Scotland, Plantlife, RSPB Scotland, and Scottish Wildlife Trust. 

Green Highlands and Islands MSP Ariane Burgess said the decision to call in this latest application is a “crucial decision for local wildlife and a big step towards protecting our iconic landscapes and nature”.

She was part of a 4,500-strong petition calling for ministers to review the council’s decision to grant planning permission.

Ms Burgess said: “Coul Links is a critically important site and should be celebrated and enhanced, not smothered with a golf course.

“The proposed development would be an act of environmental vandalism and would have a terrible impact on the rare species who depend on the specific habitat to live.

“That’s why it has been so firmly opposed by so many local people, conservation groups and wildlife champions.

Scottish ministers called in and kiboshed a previous planning proposal for a golf course on the same site in 2020.

READ MORE: Coul Links: Highland golf course on protected dunes approved

Communities for Coul director Gordon Sutherland said they were “understandably disappointed” by the Scottish Government’s decision.

He added: “We welcome the opportunity it gives us to formally address the environmental and economic benefits of our application and to correct the misinformation surrounding it.

“Communities for Coul is made up solely of local people, who have the unequivocal support of local communities.

“We hope that local democracy is respected and the Scottish Government allows fully informed, elected local representatives to decide what is best for the area.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government received a notification following the Highland Council’s decision to approve the application for a golf course at Coul Links.

“After giving full and proper consideration to the proposal, Scottish ministers decided to call in the application for their own determination.

“A reporter will now be appointed to examine these proposals and prepare a report and recommendation for Scottish ministers who will make the final decision on this planning application.

“It would not be appropriate to comment on the merits of the proposed development at this stage.”

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