Scottish Ministers have called in plans for a golf course at Coul Links near Embo, East Sutherland after deciding that the case is of ‘national importance’.
The controversial plans, which would cause huge damage to internationally important dune habitats, were approved by Highland councillors in June, despite recommendations for refusal by the Council’s own officials and hundreds of objections from organisations and individuals from across Scotland and beyond.
Jonny Hughes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “This is one of the most important planning decisions to have affected Scotland in recent years so it is only right that it is considered by the Scottish Government.
“Nearly 13,000 members of the public wrote to MSPs asking them to take a closer look at this vitally important case, and we are heartened that these plans will now be given closer scrutiny.
“We urge Scottish Ministers to maintain their commitment to the long-term protection of fragile and internationally rare habitats by ensuring that these wholly inappropriate plans are not allowed to go ahead.”
The decision will give Scottish Ministers a chance to reconsider the case and they could decide to overturn the Council’s decision and refuse consent.
The Trust is working with organisations including Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, Marine Conservation Society, Plantlife, RSPB Scotland, and National Trust for Scotland to help save Coul Links.
Aedán Smith, Head of Planning and Development at RSPB Scotland said: “Planning decisions should be made at the most appropriate level for the issues raised. That will normally be through consideration by a local planning authority. However, given the damage that would be caused by this proposal, not only to internationally important wildlife and habitats but also to Scotland’s international reputation for environmental stewardship, it is only right that this decision be decided at a national level.”
Stuart Brooks, Head of Policy and Conservation for the National Trust for Scotland added: “Scotland is home to some of the World’s best loved wild landscapes and wildlife sites and it is right that our government ensure that when these are threatened by development they are subject to the proper level of scrutiny and decisions are made in the national interest.”