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09 December, 2020

Partial denotification of Foveran Links SSSI confirmed

Parts of the dunes on Foveran Links have lost their status as a nationally important protected wildlife site, after consideration of the scientific evidence by the Protected Areas Committee (PAC) of NatureScot.  The PAC concluded that, following construction of the Trump International Golf Links course on the dune system at Menie Estate, this area no longer merits being retained as part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

PAC, acting on behalf of the NatureScot Board, took its decision following a formal consultation by NatureScot on the future status of Foveran Links SSSI and on consideration of advice from NatureScot staff, other representations and independent specialist advice.

Confirmation is not unexpected, with dialogue on potential denotification between NatureScot and landowners ongoing since 2016. The decision comes after NatureScot set up a formal 3 month stakeholder consultation period from June 2019 for stakeholders, who have been regularly advised of the process and given further opportunities to present their case before the statutory deadline of 18th December 2020.

Eileen Stuart, NatureScot’s Interim Director of Nature and Climate Change said:

“There is now no longer a reason to protect the dunes at Menie as they do not include enough of the special, natural features for which they were designated. 

“Trump International Golf Links Scotland have undertaken to deliver nature conservation management on the golf course and we value the work they have done to protect the remaining rare habitats and the rare plants on their site however they no longer have sufficient scientific interest to merit special protection.

Foveran Links SSSI was a very high quality example of a sand dune system characteristic of north east Scotland, and was of exceptional importance for the wide variety of coastal landforms and processes. The site’s notified features included its dune habitats, especially the dune slacks and pasture, and the geomorphological interest of its sand dune system, due especially to its dynamic nature. 

The remaining reduced SSSI at Foveran Links will be merged with the adjacent Sands of Forvie and Ythan Estuary SSSI next year.

Contact information

Cat Synnot

Notes to editors

The Protected Areas Committee is a sub-committee of NatureScot’s Board and its role is to advise NatureScot on work to be undertaken in relation to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and other protected areas.

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

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