The Coul Links development project at Embo, close to Dornoch in the north of Scotland, has been passed by the Highland Council’s planning committee, giving the green light for work to begin on the layout of a Coore & Crenshaw-designed golf course.
At a previous hearing on 5 June councillors had expressed support but deferred the decision to allow the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to comment on last-minute objection by campaigning group Not Coul.
At the 20 June meeting, the committee’s chairwoman Maxine Smith said: “Members came to the conclusion that the social impact and economic generation outweighed the detrimental effects that the development would have on the plant and insect life of the sand dunes.”
“Tourism is massive in the Highlands and we need to encourage that and not turn it away,” she said.
Following the meeting, Todd Warnock, a co-developer of the project alongside Mike Keiser, said: “After more than three years of thorough consideration of the project, we are excited to win such overwhelming support from the committee.
“The development has been comprehensively and fairly assessed by the two statutory bodies as well as the competent planning authority and we now look forward to bringing to Scotland the economic benefits of such a prestigious golf course.
“This major investment in a relatively remote part of the country has the significant support of local people and we thank them again for their help and encouragement.
“I would also encourage opponents of the golf course to now work with us to make the project a huge success. The evidence is compelling that Coul Links will improve the site ecologically, particularly with regard to bird life, and we will continue to strive to ensure the development progresses with environmental integrity at its heart.
Warnock went on to highlight four conclusions to be taken from the planning decision, before saying: “It’s now time to build a golf course.”
Read more: The full statement from Coul Links developer Todd Warnock
Objectors to the development are now encouraging Scottish Government Ministers to call in the planning application. Craig Macadam, conservation director of Buglife, said: “Scottish Ministers must call in this application to ensure that the wildlife of these dunes is saved for future generations.”