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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Local MSP Urges Ministers to Review Controversial Coul Links Decision

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Scottish Ministers must urgently review Highland Council’s “nature wrecking” decision to give the go ahead to a golf course development that would destroy the environmentally sensitive site at Coul Links near Embo, say the Scottish Greens.

MSP for Highlands & Islands, Ariane Burgess, raised the shock decision at First Minister’s questions, and urged the First Minister to confirm that the decision will now be ‘called in’ to Ministers for review.

She also challenged him to reaffirm the Scottish Government’s commitment to respecting all international treaty obligations and environmental protections.

The controversial development, which Ms Burgess previously branded “totally inappropriate”, has been opposed by NatureScot and planning officers due to the impact it would have on the local environment and biodiversity.

The area forms part of the Loch Fleet Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet Special Protection Area.

Others raising objections have included the likes of RSPB Scotland, Ramblers Scotland and the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Burgess said:

“Yesterday, Highland Council granted planning consent for a golf course on Coul Links, an internationally recognised Ramsar site and site of special scientific interest.

“This was despite an objection from Nature Scot and planning officers recommending refusal on the basis of conflict with National Planning Framework 4 policies 3, 4 and 10.

Ms Burgess finished:

“Will the First Minister confirm that the decision will now be called in to Ministers and reaffirm the Scottish Government’s commitment to respecting all international treaty obligations, including the Ramsar convention?”

The First Minister said he could not comment on potentially live issues, but expected local authorities to follow strict guidance on nature and environmental matters.

Around 750 objections were received to the planning bid before it was approved.

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