Help save Coul Links

  • Coul Links is an internationally important habitat, home to rare and threatened plants and wildlife
  • It is under threat from plans for a new golf course, which have recently been approved by Highland Council councillors, going against the advice of their own officials, and disregarding the objection registered by Scottish Natural Heritage, and the views of thousands of people who commented on the planning application.
  • The Scottish Government has now called-in this controversial application. The plans will now be subject to a public inquiry, which is likely to start at the end of February 2019.

© Craig Allerdyce

How is Coul Links under threat?

A planning application has been approved by Highland Council to build a new golf course on Coul Links.

The network of fairways, manicured greens and footpaths would fragment the rare dune environment. Wildlife will no longer be able to move freely within and between habitats and fragmented plant populations would be threatened by genetic isolation. Increased human activity across the site is likely to scare off many of the birds and animals currently using the site.

Why is Coul Links so special?

Coul Links is particularly special as a complete, undisturbed dune system with a unique mosaic of habitats, and is one of the last remaining in Scotland. Similar dune systems elsewhere have been destroyed by development. It has recently been hailed as “the most important dune lichen habitat site in the British Isles”.

It’s home to a rich variety of wildlife including many threatened species. Birds include over-wintering ducks, waders and geese and breeding terns, warblers, skylark, whinchat and reed bunting. Plants include sea centuary, purple milk-vetch, moonwort, grass of Parnassus and frog orchid. Recorded mammals include voles, wild cat, pine martens, badgers, stoats, weasels and bats. A wide range of insects are present, including very rare species such as the Fonseca’s seed-fly, which relies on undisturbed dunes and is confined to this area of East Sutherland. 101 species of lichens have been found, including fur which appear on the international red list of species needing urgent conservation and on Scotland’s own list of top conservation priorities.

SSSI, SPA and Ramsar

Coul Links is designated as Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site reflecting its national and international importance for wildlife.

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