Cam­paign con­tin­ues to fight golf course pro­posal

The Oban Times - - OUTDOORS - MARTIN LAING mlaing@oban­

A COALI­TION of Scot­land’s lead­ing con­ser­va­tion charities is ask­ing the pub­lic to sup­port its ob­jec­tions to the High­land Coun­cil on a pro­posed de­struc­tion of Coul Links – an im­por­tant part of Scot­land’s nat­u­ral her­itage.

The Scot­tish Wildlife Trust, RSPB Scot­land, Buglife Scot­land, Plantlife Scot­land, But­ter­fly Con­ser­va­tion Scot­land and the Ma­rine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety are cam­paign­ing against an ap­pli­ca­tion to con­struct a golf course that has been sub­mit­ted to High­land Coun­cil on be­half of Mike Keiser, a bil­lion­aire Amer­i­can in­vestor.

Coul Links hosts a dune ecosys­tem of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional im­por­tance and is pro­tected by mul­ti­ple con­ser­va­tion des­ig­na­tions.

It is home to a wide range of plants, birds, in­sects and other wildlife. Many of these species – such as curlew, whin­chat and Fon­seca’s seed fly, unique to this part of Sutherland – are rare or in se­vere de­cline else­where in the UK and are un­likely to re­main fol­low­ing dam­age to the dune en­vi­ron­ment.

Davie Black of Plantlife said: ‘The pro­posed de­struc­tion of Coul Links, one of Scot­land’s last re­main­ing coastal dune sys­tems, would be a dis­as­ter and must be whole­heart­edly op­posed by all those who care about na­ture and her­itage.

‘Coastal dune sys­tems are threat­ened ecosys­tems across the UK and no more must be bull­dozed to make way for ster­ilised fair­ways – al­ready too many ir­re­place­able Scot­tish habi­tats have been carved up to make way for golf cour­ses.

‘The frag­men­ta­tion of the dune en­vi­ron­ment which would oc­cur if de­vel­op­ment is per­mit­ted would fur­ther im­peril rare plants such as sea cen­tu­ary, pur­ple milk-vetch, moon­wort and frog or­chid, and the in­sects and other an­i­mals and birds that they sup­port. It is es­sen­tial for na­ture that Coul Links re­mains undis­turbed.’

Jonathan Hughes, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Scot­tish Wildlife Trust and a for­mer lo­cal res­i­dent, said: ‘We would urge any­one who is con­cerned about the fate of Scot­land’s wildlife and nat­u­ral land­scapes to make their voices heard by writ­ing to the High­land Coun­cil.

‘Coul Links is a truly ex­cep­tional stretch of wild, un­spoiled coast, val­ued for its nat­u­ral beauty by lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike. It seems ex­tra­or­di­nary that this in­ter­na­tion­ally im­por­tant dune sys­tem is un­der threat from yet an­other golf course pro­posal and it’s vi­tal we pro­tect it for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to en­joy.

‘Al­most a decade af­ter the ap­proval of the en­vi­ron­men­tally dam­ag­ing Trump In­ter­na­tional Golf Links in Aberdeenshire, it is un­think­able that we could lose yet an­other ir­re­place­able duneland to a de­vel­op­ment which is clearly not needed.’

To make your views known, visit the High­land Coun­cil web­site di­rectly at http://www. high­, click on plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions and search for (17/04601/FUL) and fol­low the in­struc­tions in or­der to make a com­ment. Visit https:// our-po­si­tions-and-case­work/ case­work/cases/coul-links/ for more in­for­ma­tion on how to make your voice heard.

Pic­ture: Ali­son Searl/RSPB Scot­land

Coul Links in win­ter when the dune slacks are flooded pro­vid­ing im­por­tant habi­tat for over-win­ter­ing birds.

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