Councillors have voted in favour of controversial plans to construct a golf course inside an space of protected sand dunes within the Scottish Highlands.
Proposals for the 18-hole course at Coul Links close to Embo, Sutherland, have come underneath criticism from the likes of Ramblers Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and RSPB Scotland amid issues over its environmental influence.
Ramblers Scotland has argued the event would completely remodel the realm, hurt the pure panorama, and have an effect on entry.
However, developer Communities for Coul (C4C) mentioned the “world-class” golf course would create round 400 new jobs and “stop the destructive spiral of depopulation in the northern Highlands”.
On Wednesday, a majority of councillors on Highland Council’s north planning purposes committee voted in favour of the plans – which is able to now go earlier than the Scottish authorities.
Gordon Sutherland, director at C4C, mentioned: “Our plans, which have had the backing of local people from the outset, offer a genuine chance to create much-needed new employment opportunities in an area where the working age population is falling, threatening the future viability of fragile communities.
“They additionally present a assured future for the fantastic wild coastal surroundings of Coul Links, which is presently sadly uncared for and in danger.”
The Coul Links website kinds a part of the Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet Special Protection Area (SPA).
A earlier comparable utility was blocked by the Scottish authorities in 2020 following a public inquiry.
At the time, Scottish ministers mentioned the plan would have supported financial progress and rural improvement however concluded that the dangerous impacts of the golf course on protected habitats and species outweighed the potential socio-economic advantages.
Highland Council planning officers had advisable councillors refuse permission for the newest plans.
The officers accepted that the undertaking had “substantial” native help and will deliver financial advantages, however mentioned issues remained about its environmental influence.
While adjustments had been made to handle issues from the sooner rejected proposals, they mentioned the revisions had “fallen short” and advisable the plans be refused.
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Ramblers Scotland, which launched a petition in opposition to the plans, beforehand claimed a variety of the golf course’s holes would cross the John o’ Groats Trail, which might make it arduous for walkers and different guests to keep away from interfering with play at busy instances.
The organisation is now calling on the Scottish authorities to carry one other public inquiry.
Brendan Paddy, Ramblers Scotland director, mentioned: “It is disappointing this damaging plan has been approved, despite evidence-based objections from residents, visitors, conservationists, NatureScot and Highland Council’s own ecology and access experts.
“The golf course will completely hurt entry, the panorama and the expertise for individuals strolling these internationally-protected dunes.
“Sadly, councillors ignored their own experts, as well as the clear recommendations of national agencies.
“We consider the Scottish authorities has no possibility apart from launching one other public inquiry, to point out that our most interesting magnificence spots aren’t merely up on the market to the best bidder.”