To: Highland Council & Scottish Government

Save protected nature at Loch Fleet from Bandon Dunes & Coul Links Ltd golf development vandalism

Contact Campaign Creator
Campaign created by
Andrew Weston
Save protected nature at Loch Fleet from Bandon Dunes & Coul Links Ltd golf development vandalism

Prevent precious and beautiful wild dune habitats from being turned into a golf course.

Why is this important?

A planning application has been submitted to Highland Council to construct a golf course on Coul Links, Sutherland. This is within Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Area for birds and Ramsar wetland. Coul Links is one of the few large areas of undeveloped and largely unspoilt sand dunes remaining in Scotland and its special wildlife and landforms are protected by UK and European law and an international treaty. Its development would be at odds with Highland Council’s environmental policies.

Trump Golf got official approval to destroy Foveran Links SSSI (Aberdeen) after exaggerating economic benefits, much shenanigans and Scottish Government intervention. Similar could happen again but this time the applicant is Coul Links Ltd. run by Mike Keiser of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort (Oregon), Trump Golf’s main rival.

For many reasons, the destruction within the SSSI would extend far beyond the proposed golf lawn of 34.6 acres. Unprotected dunes outside the SSSI are of comparable ecological interest too. National expert on dune and wetland ecology, Dr Tom Dargie, describes the developer’s surveys and Environmental Statement as very flawed and ‘unfit for purpose’.

This is frequently REVISED, because of the developer's modifications to the planning application, and it is presently 22 December 2017; but please WATCH THIS SPACE.
For more information see Not Coul website:

CONSERVATION CHARITIES opposing the development:

How it will be delivered

The deadline for public comments and objections to Highland Council is now 22 December 2017, as it is repeatedly revised because of additions to the planning application. I will deliver the petition to Highland Council a couple of days before the deadline but intend to reactivate it to collect more signatures and keep it updated. The decision is likely to be protracted and we know from the similar Trump Menie (Foveran Links SSSI) controversy that the Scottish Government might be involved.

Loch Fleet

Reasons for signing

  • Golf courses like this do nothing but provide play grounds for the rich at the expense of local people and the environment. The corporations which develop them care nothing for the locality or delivering on the promises they make to politicians. Scotland already has plenty of first class golf courses and golf courses which could be developed leave our wild spaces alone.
  • It's unbelievable that this is happening again! Stop destroying nature!!!!
  • Loch Fleet is an incredibly special area and should receive the highest protection rather than be destroyed by a golf course. Visitors travel to that area from all over to view the special natural history. Does the council really want to lose all these visitors to the area?


2017-11-24 22:33:55 +0000

Please note that Highland Council has not made a planning decision about the golf course and that the deadline for objections is still 22 December 2017.

There is still much influential support (listed here on 9 October 2017) for the development, although views may become modified in view of SNH's objection:

Andrew Weston

2017-11-24 22:30:16 +0000

2017-11-22 12:49:22 +0000

From Bandon's abandon in May & June 2014:
CONSERVATION TRACK RECORD of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort subsidiary Bandon Biota:
Article by courtesy of Oregon Coast Alliance (ORCA) November 2017
NB © Any reference or linking to this article should be credited to ORCA.


2017-11-22 09:35:30 +0000


'The OREGONIAN' September 2015:
"Golf course developer abandons plans to buy Oregon state park land"

'CBC' May 2016:
"Cabot Links golf resort expansion reignites beach-access concerns"

'NEW YORK TIMES' June 2007:
"Assisting the Good Life"
"A Man Would Lose His Land While Another Would Benefit"

2017-11-21 19:56:52 +0000

BRACKEN for fritillaries & chats:

Some other SPECIES at Loch Fleet (incomplete data) for golf's net biodiversity loss (AW):

2017-11-11 14:45:16 +0000

2017-11-11 10:33:10 +0000

NB Since the bulk of Loch Fleet SSSI is tidal estuary, mudflats and saltmarsh, where Bandon Dunes Golf Resort or Coul Links Ltd did not consider development, and there is a large area of native Scots pine woodland (in different ownership), any 1.8% [1.1%] proportion of SSSI argument is unreasonable, taking into account the extent of DUNE HABITATS AFFECTED inside and outside the newly proposed 34.6 acres of lawn. Constructing the golf course would mean bulldozing, digging, attempted bulk habitat and species translocation, recontouring, reseeding with introduced grasses, under-grazing, herbiciding, irrigating and intensively mowing 34.6 acres of what is presently a variety of internationally important natural dune habitats, with substantial collateral damage, immediate and insidious.
Andrew Weston
Ecological Surveyor (semi-retired)

2017-11-07 14:01:43 +0000

2017-11-04 21:26:32 +0000


NB The earlier separate application appears like a case of the cart before the horse and based on a presumption of golf course development approval and perhaps even a second golf course outside the SSSI. The reservoir would influence the hydrology and ecology of the SSSI, so why was it not included with the main planning application for the golf course? This separation appears to be against Environmental Impact Assessment rules.
Andrew Weston

2017-11-04 21:26:08 +0000

'A parliamentary motion opposing a controversial £8million golf development in Sutherland has been lodged by MSP John Finnie, who claims it would be “catastrophic” for the local environment.'

2017-11-01 11:17:50 +0000

10,000 signatures reached

2017-10-28 11:22:35 +0100

2017-10-21 10:34:14 +0100

NB Dr Dargie and Trump parted company when latter ignored advice. Coastal juniper and shoreweed slacks are rare priority habitats, while the species are not rare:

2017-10-19 11:04:43 +0100

How can a golf course enhance diversity and duck the WINTER INUNDATION PROBLEMS? AW



Exhibitions, to elicit public votes of support, have either paid scant attention to the wildlife, as in the August 2016 displays which relegated a habitat survey to just a tiny cryptic map at Scottie dog eye level, or in October 2017 presented flawed ecology. The less truth people know the less insensitive the plans appear.
Andrew Weston

2017-10-12 12:05:53 +0100

2017-10-11 22:29:03 +0100

2017-10-09 10:55:57 +0100


NB The support of some politicians and community groups is unrepresentative of everyone and partly results from dubious ecology and propaganda.
One supporter and investor is The EMBO TRUST, a charity and trading company, both since March 2017 registered as a limited company. The golf course would be at odds with one of its 'PURPOSES' (4.5):
"To advance environmental protection or improvement including preservation and conservation of the natural environment, the promotion of sustainable development, the maintenance, improvement or provision of environmental amenities for the community."
One director is an elected councillor who had already stated his support publicly before election, giving scope for multiple CONFLICTS OF INTERESTS between nature conservation, charitable status, business and democracy.
Andrew Weston

2017-09-28 14:13:30 +0100

"...Keiser says he wouldn’t have gone this far if he didn’t know every public body, politician and local citizen was solidly behind the project..."

NB This statement is inaccurate.
Andrew Weston

2017-09-11 14:48:29 +0100

2016-12-13 14:18:53 +0000

2016-10-14 20:32:13 +0100

5,000 signatures reached

2016-10-13 21:24:58 +0100

1,000 signatures reached

2016-10-13 16:45:18 +0100

500 signatures reached

2016-10-04 18:09:38 +0100

100 signatures reached

2016-09-27 23:34:35 +0100

"To develop a championship world class links course which reflects the existing landscape, embraces the natural, minimalist approach and benefits the East Sutherland Highlands."

2016-09-26 12:18:54 +0100

50 signatures reached

2016-09-23 17:08:58 +0100

August 2016:

April 2016:

October 2015:

September 2015:


2016-09-12 15:15:13 +0100

25 signatures reached

2016-09-09 09:16:46 +0100

10 signatures reached