Controversial '˜world-class' Highlands golf course a step nearer

Plans for a controversial golf course earmarked for the Scottish Highlands have overcome a major hurdle after Scotland's environmental regulator removed its objections to the project.

The developers of a world class golf course have welcomed significant progress on their plans with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) removing its objections to the project. Pic supplied by Coul Project

Developers wanting to build a championship 18-hole championship golf course at Coul Links near Embo in East Sutherland, have faced opposition with around 1,000 objections to the proposals being submitted by organisations and individuals.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) had said that the golf course would have ‘significant adverse environmental impacts’ and raised a number of issues, including concerns over what applying pesticides and removing hundreds of litres of groundwater daily would have on the internationally renown wetlands, rare plants, salt marshes, sand dunes and wildlife.

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However, in a letter to Highland Council last week, Sepa said previous areas of concern have been removed after talks with the development team.

Todd Warnock, co-developer of Coul Links, said: “We are very pleased with the thorough and professional dialogue we have had with Sepa over the last almost three years.

“We have taken the time to work constructively together to ensure the environmental integrity of the site and at the same time to advance one of the largest private investments in the history of Sutherland. We are now also looking forward to the response letter which is expected from Scottish Natural Heritage.”

It is estimated the project, financed by US billionaire Mike Keiser, a world-famous course developer, and his partners, will generate 250 new jobs and provide a £60 million boost to the local economy during its first decade.

The area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an International Protection Area.

Protest group NOT COUL Coul, Stop Coul Links Golf Course, made up of residents from Dornoch and Embo, have collected more than 87,000 signatures against the development and submitted objections to the council.

Developers say an overwhelming number of local people, businesses, public sector agencies, golf clubs and tourism specialists have confirmed support for Coul Links.