Planning permission denied for major new Scottish golf course

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 16, 2020 21:41

Scottish ministers have ruled that a major but controversial 18-hole golf course cannot be built on protected Highland land – two years after local councillors approved the plan.

The course at Coul Links near Dornoch was to be built by American developers. Councillors approved the plan in 2018, based on the potential for local jobs, which ensured the proposal received some support within the local community.

However, wildlife and conservation charities said the creation of an 18-hole course would devastate the local environment.

More than 30 acres of the planned development was to cover dunes at the Embo site under blueprints presented by US businessman Todd Warnock and his backers.

But the bid was called in by the Scottish government, which has now refused planning permission.

The decision follows a public inquiry.

Scottish Greens MSP, John Finnie, said: “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.”

Planning minister Kevin Stewart added: “Reporters have concluded that the harmful impacts of this development to protected habitats and species would outweigh the potential socio-economic benefits.

“This proposal does not comply with the relevant provisions of the Highland Wide Local Development Plan, and runs contrary to Scottish planning policy’s emphasis on protecting natural heritage sites and world class environmental assets.

“The Scottish government agrees with the recommendation that planning permission should be refused.”

Meanwhile, an Australian millionaire is to open one of the world’s most exclusive golfing hotels on the remote Hebridean island where George Orwell wrote his dystopian best-seller 1984.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 16, 2020 21:41
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  1. djm March 18, 12:41

    As ever, there is more to this story than is being laid out here. Not the least of it is the strong strain of TDS that runs through the SNP.

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  2. Peter March 12, 16:05

    Environmental issues rule ! The design process is a long, complicated and involved plan ! Design guidelines and site analysis are where we discover environmental sensitivities and all constraints, local and federal ! Developers must be able to identify soils, topographies and vegetation that will cause issues and what local planning boards are comfortable with ! Good stuff !

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