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The fate of one of Scotland’s important and last remaining undeveloped dune systems now lies in the hands of Scottish Ministers after Highland Council’s North Planning Applications Committee voted to grant permission for an 18-hole golf course development on the nationally and internationally protected site for nature.

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Councillors voted by eight in favour, six against to allow the plans by developer C4C for Coul Links, near Embo in East Sutherland, against the advice of Highland Council’s own planning officers, and in the face of almost 750 objections including from statutory consultee NatureScot, Scottish Government’s advisers on nature.

Serious concerns have been raised about the wide-ranging impact the golf course would have on the protected sites and nature found within it, but these were not seen as important enough by a majority of Councillors on the Planning Committee to refuse the plans.

The Conservation Coalition is extremely disappointed and very concerned by Highland Council’s decision to grant permission for the plans and is now calling on Scottish Ministers to step in to save Coul Links from development.

This is the second time in five years that Highland Council have decided to support a golf course at Coul Links against officers’ advice and despite the plans being overwhelmingly opposed. The last development was ultimately turned down by Scottish Ministers in 2020 due to the detrimental impact it would have had on nature.

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