If you have been following the saga of Coul Links in East Sutherland you will know that the original proposal for a golf course was turned down by the Scottish Government – you can read more about the back story here.

In July last year we told you that another application had been submitted for the site. We submitted an objection to the application. in summary:

  • Butterfly Conservation objects to this application which would in our view lead to the significant loss of habitats within the Loch Fleet SSSI and Ramsar sites. Coul Links supports an exceptionally wide range of Lepidoptera and the importance of the site for this group of invertebrates has been established at Public Inquiry and supported by Scottish Ministers.
  • The applicant has failed to acknowledge and identify the extent and importance of Lepidoptera at Coul and has not undertaken surveys to understand the effects of the development and the ecological requirements of these species.
  • There is no realistic recognition of how the construction and management of the proposed development might impact on Lepidoptera habitats. The mitigation measures proposed lack credible evidence that they could be undertaken successfully, and in an appropriate timescale. If carried out they might threaten populations of rare species currently supported within the SSSI.

We are delighted to say that Nature Scot has also objected to the development, specifically:

“the conclusion of our assessment is that this proposal is contrary to National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) requirements not to compromise the objectives of SSSI designation and the overall integrity of Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest.”

This application is very similar to the original that was refused by the Scottish Government at a Public Inquiry in 2019. In the intervening period there is worldwide recognition that we are in a biodiversity and climate emergency. Planning policy has also changed with the recent adoption of National Planning Framework (NPF4) that has a particular emphasis on securing positive outcomes for natural capital and biodiversity. These changes add to the inappropriateness of this development. We hope that this application will also be rejected.