Thank you to those that joined us at our recent webinar on 30 August 2022. We hope you found it useful and helpful in your understanding of the proposed 18 hole golf course to be developed on a part of Coul Links.
This community consultation was part of the statutory planning process and provides us as applicants together with our team of consultants, to address, where appropriate, the points you raised.
We received some 22 questions and comments, some raising issues with the use of the site given its status as a SSSI and others seeking information on the methodology of construction, use of the course and its impact on the local economy.
Some of your queries will be addressed in the Environmental Impact Assessment that will accompany the planning application.
We have summarised the questions into categories where questions cover similar topics, and as confirmed at our Webinar, we provide the following response and clarification.
- NatureScot Management Plan – there is indeed a management plan in place. This is funded by the public purse and is limited in scope. It is concentrating on addressing some of the areas of gorse, birch scrub and bracken. The action so far has had limited success: gorse cut back is already regenerating, birch scrub has been left in situ and is decomposing creating humus and debris that is altering the sandy environment. Bracken treatment is ongoing at present but the extent and spread of this invasive species is a major task in its own right.The proposed course will provide scope for the long term management of the SSSI providing opportunities to significantly improve on the current situation and at no financial cost to the public. We will work closely with NatureScot in achieving the long term management of the area.
- The course will be of championship standard. The proposed mowing of the fairways in particular addresses many of the concerns of the earlier proposal. This is a tried and tested practice and successful on course such as Machrihanish, also within a SSSI. Mowing fairways is historically appropriate. The vegetation adapts to being mown and very many of the championship courses were designed this way historically including Royal Dornoch. We have designed the course in the full knowledge that all fairways and paths will be mown. Only tees and greens will involve new grassed areas. Modern equipment can now deal with the varied landforms and vegetation and does not pose a particular issue for us. Indeed we see the dune slacks as natural hazards although most will be avoided.
- Reference has been made to hole 11 and the water table. The proposed tee and green will not be underwater at any point. Temporary boardwalks are proposed to guide golfers across the course and these will be removed during the winter months when the course is out of play.
- The course will be available for all to play. We intend to have variable fees, favouring local fees for local players.
- Pesticides will not be used on the course. Herbicides are already in use by NatureScot and identified in their Management Plan. We will work closely with NatureScot and any use of herbicides if considered necessary.
- The EIA will include a detailed section on coastal geomorphology and the dynamics of the area adjacent to the dune system extending along the Embo section of the SSSI. There is no reason to assume that there is an issue with coastal erosion. The course development footprint does not extend to the coastal dune system in any event.
- We are confident that there is and will be sufficient accommodation options throughout the Dornoch Firth area and beyond to accommodate all golfers wishing to play Coul Links. The short term let control proposal does not restrict tourist facilities but will enable more appropriate management through the planning and licensing system.
- There are plans to create a significant number of new affordable homes within the area both to buy and rent. This is separate from the golf course proposal and will be the subject of further applications, in discussion with the landowner, in due course. There are many other communities within easy commuting distance of Coul Links where properties are available and more affordable.
The detailed planning application will be accompanied by a new EIA , technical information and socio economic evidence all to support our proposal. We have a team of specialist consultants working for us to deliver a comprehensive planning application.