Plans to build a Jack Nicklaus golf course in Scotland could be bunkered by an ancient woodland.
The golfing legend hoped his designs for a new course at Ury Estate in Aberdeenshire would pull in golf tourists from all over the world.
Developers also want to build 90 luxury houses, a hotel and clubhouse on the land.
But planning chiefs have now recommended that the Stonehaven scheme is rejected over concerns for mature trees.
In a report due to go before the Kincardine and Mearns area committee on Tuesday, Aberdeenshire Council’s environment team said the impact of the development on protected woodland species had not been fully considered.
The report states: “The combination of the proposed housing and golf course would require the loss of significant areas of established woodland.
“The tree report indicates that approximately 470 out of 580 trees examined would be lost as a result of the golf course proposal.
“The proposed mitigation involves the removal of soil from the areas of woodland to be developed and placing it on adjacent agricultural land, together with new planting on improved ground.
“No evidence has been supplied, based on previous experience or research, to demonstrate that the movement of soil from the woodland onto adjacent agricultural fields will be successful in reinstating woodland habitat on improved agricultural soils.
“Soil characteristics are likely to be altered by the movement of the soil unless the soil profile can be retained.
“New woodland planting is proposed and although this could provide valuable connecting woodland in the long term, this in no way replaces woodland habitat which has developed over hundreds of years.”
The Forestry Commission also objects to the plans due to the proposed loss of the ancient woodland which is one of the largest clusters of mature trees in the north-east area.
The report adds that about half of the proposed houses and four holes on the golf course would erode a large area of the Slicewells Wood, which, as a natural forest, is likely to have much richer wildlife than other woodlands.
Objectors have stated that they would rather have compensatory planting take place than the soil removed from the ground if the plans are approved.
Jonathon Milne, director of FM Group, the golf course developers, said the golf course would create 200 jobs and boost the local economy by 55.5 million pounds.
He said: “Crucially we have the overwhelming support of the local community and the community council, and I am confident that when councillors weight up the major benefits of this development they will make the right decision.
“The cost of preparing such a golf course application using the world’s best design team means this opportunity is unlikely to ever be re-presented if rejected.”
Nicklaus Design has over 300 courses worldwide, with nearly 60 featured in various national and international top-100 lists.