The Coul Links: Right to Reply & Reaction from the RSPB

Following on from The Orkney News article written by one of our contributors Alex The Coul Links saga shows councillors lack of respect for local opinion we have been messaged by Irene Bews who is appalled at the item. As a right of reply we are publishing her views and those of others.

Irene Bews says in her message to The Orkney News that:

“I’m absolutely appalled by the one sided view! At least he could have spoken to the locals whom have been fighting planning approval, not a small group of incomers intent on landscape over young people, jobs and rural development and survival. This is reporting at its worst – not researched properly”

“Massive local opposition?

“Perhaps contacting locals, the Dornoch Community Association, the Embo Trust etc would have been a good starting point for such a sub headline!

“Indeed if breaking down the numbers quoted ‘in opposition’ as to where they were gathered from might also have provided a clue. The majority of the petition is from people who not only do not live locally, but people who have never visited the area and live south of the border.

“I live in the village and work in the outdoors and with young people. Rural and economic development is vital for our area and it’s future. THAT is why locals are FOR this and not against it. That is why we had a big village celebration when HC unanimously passed the planning. A quick look on social media would have explained this too.

“As for destruction of a landscape? This area has never had any ‘management plan’ by the ‘protecting agencies’. It will be improved by development as opposed to destroyed.
The site only touches 7% of SSSI area and the majority of dune will remain intact.
This is far from the ‘scaremongering’ and doom and gloom from the Not Coul brigade.

“Our local community is delighted that the planning has been passed by councillors in HC with vision for our local area.

“I urge the reporter to contact Embo Trust or Dornoch Community Associaton to redress the damage done by such a one sided and biased report. “

Comment from The RSPB

“Unfortunately, proposals for a golf course on a triple-protected wildlife site at Coul Links have been consented by the Highland Council, against the advice of Council officials, SNH and numerous environmental groups.

“Given the significance of the environmental impacts, it is now the Scottish Government’s responsibility to make the final decision. We are leading an e-action calling on the Scottish Government to step in and ensure that Scotland upholds its international environmental commitments. Please take action today: click here for our e-action.

“Coul Links is a beautiful, natural coastal dune system, home to many species of wildlife. It is located to the immediate south of Loch Fleet in East Sutherland, Scotland. Coul Links is one of the last areas of undeveloped species-rich dune habitat in Scotland.

“Together with Loch Fleet itself, Coul Links is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an international Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site.

“The proposed golf course would destroy this unique collection of dune habitats and would result in harmful disturbance to both wintering and breeding waders, waterfowl and other species, many of which are rare or declining in number.”

Evidence produced by the campaign group NOT COUL can be found here

Comment from Scottish Natural Heritage

“Having considered all aspects, SNH is objecting to the proposal due to the extent of impact on the Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Commenting on SNH’s advice, Nick Halfhide, Director of Operations, said:

“We have worked closely with the developer on this proposed new golf course and appreciate the efforts they have made in trying to mitigate the environmental impact.

“We recognise the many benefits the development would bring to Embo and the local economy, and we welcome the developers’ commitment to high standards of construction and management.

“However, we are not able to fully support the development as proposed due to the loss of more than 16 hectares of nationally important sand dunes, and the impact on the special plants and animals found there.”

The development proposals include a range of measures to improve the management of the site for nature but SNH considers these do not outweigh the permanent loss to the sand dunes.

Coul’s sand dunes contain some of the best dune habitat in Scotland and this is also one of the few sites in Scotland to support populations of green felt lichen and the rare Fonseca’s seed fly.

Coul Links by Mike Pennington


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5 replies »

  1. Further to my post earlier today I’d like to add that its unclear as to whether the RSPB have ever actually been on site, same with SWT although both have been invited several times by the developer.I am a supporter of RSPB as a rule but cannot understand their position on Coul Links.

  2. As a local and one who spent his life on Coul Links and stands to be kicked off for golf; thanks to the RSPB. SWT and every other Nature organisation and current interest group outside of developer pay that oppose this vandalism. You just had a taste of the loud pressure group that only invites golf worshiper parties, heehee!

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