Northern Brown Argus - Tim Melling

BC has joined up with a number of other organisations to ensure the protection of wildlife at Coul Links near Embo, in the Highlands of Scotland, where there are plans to create a golf course. 

It’s been around three years since US businessman Todd Warnock and golf course developer Mike Keiser first made public their idea for an 18 hole championship course at the site.

But environmental groups argue that the proposals would completely destroy more than 34 acres of internationally important, irreplaceable dune habitat and disrupt the natural dune processes and ecosystems.

In recent developments, top conservation experts have now been confirmed to give evidence at the Coul Links public inquiry.

Witnesses will include former Butterfly Conservation Trustee, Dr Mark Young, who is also an Emeritus senior lecturer at Aberdeen University and author of over 200 research papers on ecology.

Other witnesses will include Buglife Scotland’s Conservation Director, Craig Macadam, Professor Colin Galbraith (who was previously a Director and Chief Scientist with Scottish Natural Heritage) and Jonny Hughes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust. 

Together, they will outline the national and international environmental importance of Coul Links, which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Area and a Ramsar Site. 

The witnesses will be presented by the Conservation Coalition, a group of seven environmental organisations who have come together to help save this internationally important wildlife site, due to the lasting damage that will be done if the plans are allowed to go ahead. 

The controversial plans for a golf course at Coul Links in East Sutherland were ‘called in’ by Ministers earlier this year due to natural heritage issues of ‘national importance’. The plans will be scrutinised at a public inquiry due to start in February next year.   
Professor Colin Galbraith said: “There is a powerful case against these development proposals. Internationally important wildlife sites, including Coul Links, undergo a careful designation process and are strictly protected from inappropriate developments such as this one”.  

Jonny Hughes said: “Coul Links is globally important for nature conservation and because of this it is among one of the most heavily protected areas in Scotland. It is alarming that these damaging plans have come so far.  

“The Scottish Government’s response to Coul Links is a test of its commitment to caring for our most important habitats. Our evidence will demonstrate the immense damage that will be done by carving out a golf course in this truly special place, and we hope it will lead to a swift rejection of the plans by Scottish Ministers.”

The start of the inquiry has been set for Tuesday February 26, 2019 and it’s expected to last for four weeks. The location of the inquiry is still to be determined.

Want to find out more? Take a look at our previous article on Coul Links, where Paul Kirkland, Butterfly Conservation Director, Scotland, reveals why the Scottish Government’s decision to ‘call in’ proposals to develop a wildlife hotspot into a golf course offers nature lovers some hope.

The organisations that have formed a coalition to highlight the ‘devastating environmental impact’ of the golf course includes: