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24 November, 2017

SNH provides advice on Coul Links golf course

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has submitted its advice to Highland Council on a proposed new golf course at Coul Links near Embo in Sutherland.

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.

Contact information

SNH Media

Notes to editors

The majority of the dune system at Coul Links is a component part of three protected areas: Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Ramsar site.

The SPA is a European designation which protects birds under the European Birds Directive. The Ramsar site is an international designation under the Ramsar Convention with sites selected for their importance as wetlands and wetland habitats for birds.  We believe our concerns about SPA/Ramsar birds can be overcome by the production of a comprehensive Recreation and Access Management Plan.

Fonseca’s fly is present within Loch Fleet SSSI. Further information can be found at:


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