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To: Highland Council & Scottish Government AGAIN (since 2023 golf plans are similar to previously and developer is the same)

Save Coul Links protected nature (Loch Fleet Ramsar SSSI & SPA) from golf development vandalism

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

Why is this important?

A planning application was submitted to Highland Council to construct an 18-hole international golf course on Coul Links, Sutherland but the applicant is not Trump Golf. The target lies within Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Area for birds & international Ramsar wetland, which is predominantly estuary. Coul Links is one of very few expanses of undeveloped & largely unspoilt sand dunes remaining in Scotland, & its special wildlife & landforms are protected by those UK & European legal designations & international treaty. Development would be at odds with Highland Council’s environmental policies.

The government’s conservation agency, which objected, describes SSSIs as “areas of land & water that Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) considers to best represent our natural heritage - its diversity of plants, animals & habitats, rocks & landforms, or a combination of such natural features. They are the essential building blocks of Scotland's protected areas for nature conservation … It is an offence for any person to intentionally or recklessly damage the protected natural features of an SSSI."

Trump got official approval to destroy Foveran Links SSSI after exaggerating economic benefits, much shenanigans & Scottish Government intervention. That site will probably be denotified as SSSI (confirmed Dec 2020). The present speculator is Coul Links Ltd. led by Mike Keiser, President of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Oregon, Trump Golf’s main global rival, & entrepreneur Todd Warnock who similarly claims 'I can make this environment better'.

From Oct 2015, press articles publicised proposals for the golf course. Developers blithely spoke of perceived advantages to golf & economy, ignored conservation designations but mentioned new nature trails & wildlife ‘information’. Development propaganda has not informed the public what wildlife, habitat, landforms & amenity will be destroyed & degraded. Exhibitions in Aug 2016 & Oct 2017, to elicit public votes of support, paid scant attention to wildlife & presented flawed ecology. The former relegated a habitat survey to just a tiny cryptic map at Scottie dog eye level. The less truth people know the less insensitive the plans appear.

Golf course construction would be an unnatural catastrophe. It would mean excavating, recontouring, burying wet slacks, reseeding with introduced grasses, addition of plastic membranes, irrigating & intensively mowing 40.5 ha, habitat fragmentation, under-grazing & eradication of (valuable grazers & browsers) rabbits & deer, fertilising & herbiciding (& run-off), with substantial collateral damage, immediate & insidious, & bulk habitat & species translocation of 4.5 ha. dune heath, with insects & rare lichens, & 100 rare dune juniper, with displacements on receptor areas, contrary to government's 'A Habitats Translocation Policy for Britain' (2003) recently relaxed.

Size & connectivity of habitats are ecologically critical, affecting species populations, diversity, interaction & survivability. Construction traffic, borrow pits & sand-moving would disturb & damage the geomorphology, hydrology (water quality & seasonality), low-nutrient profiles (on which plants rely) & habitat biodiversity over a much wider area. Fine irregular patterns of topography, micro-habitats & vegetation mosaics, like dry hummocks & wet slacks, would be destroyed, displacing specialised, scarce, rare & vulnerable plants & insects. Human disturbance would reduce bird populations in surviving habitats.

Dunes naturally have cycles of erosion & deposition. Plans include greens & fairways constructed near foredune crests & a burn outlet, eliminating important species & weakening natural sea defences regardless of risks. This would probably necessitate adding a culvert & an artificial expanse of boulder rip rap, leading to beach narrowing (part National Nature Reserve) & coastal erosion nearby, the judgement of leading geomorphologist Dr Jim Hansom of Glasgow University.

Compromise from 'invasive' species, the result of management neglect & rejected SNH grant aid (£230,000 since 2010), & regenerating North American lodgepole pines (misidentified by golf's ecologists as Scots pines), is being grossly exaggerated to excuse 'remediating' so much natural vegetation with manicured mediocrity. Naturalness is a key criterion in SSSI selection. Bracken, gorse, tall herbs & rank grassland support more wildlife than lawns: Fonseca's seed-fly, thought endemic to Sutherland dunes, requires 'weeds'. Claims about biodiversity net gain from moving fragile habitats & species, controlling Scots Pine, rare & native at Coul, & cessation of duck shooting are ludicrous.

Threatened habitats outside the SSSI, in a golf 'remediation' area, are of comparable biodiversity, including Fonseca's Seed-fly, Baltic Rush, Rough Horsetail, Moonwort, Skullcap, Butterwort, Fragrant, Frog & Creeping Lady's-tresses Orchids, Small Blue butterfly & plants at their northern UK limits, like Restharrow & abundant Rock-rose, the food-plant of scarce Northern Brown Argus butterfly.

The developers talk of 'sensitivity', 'minimalism', ‘naturalness’, 'utmost care' & the high repute of its designers, but Oregon track record conflicts:

Leading dune ecologist Dr Tom Dargie describes the developer’s surveys & Environmental Statement as ‘unfit for purpose’. He judges the site worthy of (European) Special Area of Conservation (SAC) status, which would have prevented such development being considered.

There is a superfluity of coastal golf courses in Scotland, many undersubscribed, some closing, mostly eroding. The environmentally responsible option is to avoid development within such special, rare & fragile habitats.

How it will be delivered

Petition was delivered to Highland Council Dec 2017 & May 2018. Councillors (except 1.5) voted to approve application. Scottish Government rejected it in Feb 2020 after Inquiry. Then a similar planning Screening Request surfaced in July 2020, becoming a full application in February 2023, so TWO PETITIONS will be submitted to Highland ePlanning, including

Loch Fleet, United Kingdom

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


2023-03-18 16:08:07 +0000

FOR UPDATES to this 'Vandalism' Petition A please see its fellow 'Groundhog' Petition B in response to the March 2023 full planning application:
Details of why the net effects of the new proposals, described in the developer's Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR), would be similarly destructive to those in the earlier rejected planning application, despite one major improvement with respect to dune Juniper, can be seen on that petition and on the Not Coul website:

2021-05-03 15:33:49 +0100

There are now two active petitions.
Save COUL LINKS protected nature from destructive 'Déjà Vu Groundhog Day' golf course:

Presently there is little difference between the earlier planning application and the new planning screening request, in terms of extensive environmental impacts, as the 18-hole golf course design plans are Bill Coore's and identical, and Mike Keiser will be the developer if the resubmitted golf course gets planning approval:
'Major milestone' as Communities For Coul tee up golf course architect Mike Keiser:

2020-09-14 20:40:19 +0100

THE SCOTSMAN 14 September 2020, extract:
"Permission for an 18-hole golf course at Coul Links, near Embo in East Sutherland, was refused by the Scottish Government in February this year.
"A separate golf proposal has now been lodged with Highland Council for the site, which hosts a dune ecosystem of national and international importance and is protected by multiple conservation 
designations ...
"The new application, made in the name of Embo Junior Football and Athletic Club c/o its chairman James McGillivray, is for 'development of an 18 hole championship links golf course and practise area' covering around 805 acres."

2020-03-14 19:30:21 +0000

DPEA REPORT to Scottish Ministers (who agreed to reject the planning application):

DPEA INQUIRY WEBCASTS (see 26 Feb to 22 March, 2019):

Impartial information for all things Coul:

COUL LINKS LTD (weblink presently not functioning):

WIKIPEDIA (few inaccuracies, like no mention of Mike Keiser):

2020-03-12 21:18:26 +0000


2020-03-07 11:39:37 +0000

Surfbirds blog

“I believe that golf courses, especially when they’re on a spacious site, will be deemed by scientists who quantify these things as carbon sponges,” Keiser says. “And wouldn’t that be good for golf?” [especially when sited on undisturbed wet peat bogs].

2020-03-03 20:43:28 +0000


2020-02-27 10:38:20 +0000

'in a joint statement given exclusively to the NT, Todd Warnock, Mike Keiser and Chris Haspell said: “We are reviewing the decision thoroughly and will respond in due course.”'
'The councillor, who lives next to the site, said: “If ever a place encapsulates sheer degenerative despair in a single miserable and depressing landscape, it must be Coul Links".'

2020-02-26 13:04:18 +0000

'Scottish golf: A game for all or a playground for the rich?'
"Elsewhere, the news that the contentious Coul Links development near Dornoch has been refused planning permission was at least a relief; a moral victory against the whims of marauding corporate interests."

2020-02-26 01:17:15 +0000

'Not Coul: Mike Keiser's dream to build new links course in Scotland is over ...
'“I’m moving on. I have so many other projects,” Keiser tells The Forecaddie. “God bless Dornoch.” ... He didn’t want to speak on behalf of Warnock, his partner, who may choose to appeal the ruling.'
Envirotec Magazine:

2020-02-26 01:12:34 +0000

The Coul Links proposed golf development PLANNING APPLICATION WAS REFUSED by Scottish Ministers on 21 February 2020. The Ministers’ decision is final but any individual unhappy with the decision has a right of appeal to the Court of Session within 6 weeks, so THIS PETITION WILL REMAIN OPEN for more signatures UNTIL AT LEAST 4 APRIL 2020.

STV News at Six- Coul Links

2020-02-24 09:22:06 +0000

Petition is successful with 91,985 signatures

2020-02-22 20:15:44 +0000

Waltham Forest Guardian:

2020-02-22 01:02:15 +0000

2020-02-21 17:54:01 +0000

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT HAS REFUSED COUL LINKS DEVELOPMENT,planning-permission-refused-for-controversial-coul-links-golf-course_15146.htm

2020-01-30 13:30:22 +0000

2020-01-26 12:51:22 +0000

2019-12-28 01:04:35 +0000

2019-12-23 11:50:50 +0000

John Finnie, Green MSP, Highlands & Islands: "Our land can’t just be a bonnie attraction"

2019-12-01 01:29:11 +0000

2019-11-28 01:07:49 +0000

27 November 2019
Following the Coul Links Public Inquiry in February and March 2019, The Scottish Government Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) Reporter's recommendation for the golf course planning application has been submitted to Scottish Ministers for consideration. The Planning and Architecture Division of the Scottish Government will issue the decision in due course.

2019-10-28 12:56:42 +0000

"Beyond the Noise" photographic exhibition, Dornoch:
“I think nature has a remarkable ability to adjust and I do not think anything is ever as bad or as good as it seems, and you can infer from that what you want.” Ashley Rose photographer.
This view was not shared by many expert witnesses unconnected to golf industry at the Coul Links Public Inquiry.

2019-08-26 00:22:38 +0100

2019-08-18 23:05:39 +0100

2019-08-13 11:19:15 +0100

2019-08-06 23:56:17 +0100

Public Inquiry hearings ended 22 March 2019. Closing final submissions to DPEA were to be submitted before these dates: opponents by 8 April; Council by 15 April; applicants by 22 April. Applicant's solicitors delivered final submission on 6 August. The submissions amount to about 400 pages. Their delay & length attempt to cheat the rules to gain unfair advantage.

2019-07-08 23:20:57 +0100

More Keiser excavations planned:

2019-07-04 22:53:26 +0100

DPEA to applicant's solicitors:
"The reporters have asked me to convey their unease about the repeated and significant delays in the submission of your closing submissions. It does not portray the inquiry process in its best light, and it does not assist them in submitting their report in an efficient and timely manner. They both have significant holiday commitments approaching. They had hoped to have submitted their report to Ministers before going on leave, but this is now highly unlikely. Therefore you should be aware that there may be significant further delay before they are able to complete their report."

Public Inquiry hearings ended 22 March. Closing final submissions were to be submitted: opponents by 8 April; Highland Council by 15 April; applicant by 22 April. Applicant is attempting to give golf development an advantage above those who kept to rules.

2019-06-28 09:52:10 +0100

"Trump golf course dunes to lose special status"

2019-06-14 10:12:08 +0100

2019-03-21 23:54:49 +0000

2019-03-17 22:38:50 +0000

2019-03-09 23:50:16 +0000

2019-03-01 01:03:47 +0000


NB REVISED STARTING TIME: 9:30 am Tuesdays to Fridays

The Scottish Government Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) will be holding a Public Inquiry to examine and recommend the outcome of the planning application for the proposed golf course on Coul Links, within Loch Fleet SSSI and Loch Fleet & Dornoch Firth Special Protection Area and Ramsar international wetland.

The Inquiry will take place in the Carnegie Hall, CLASHMORE, Dornoch, IV25 3RG, starting at 10 am on TUESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2019. The venue is a few miles south-west of Dornoch, a little west of the A9, and it has disabled access. The Inquiry will be of at least 4 WEEKS DURATION, Tuesdays to Fridays only. The public is welcome to attend to observe proceedings. There will be a sound system in use and a webcast of the proceedings.

Paper mountain range:

2019-02-25 20:46:46 +0000

2019-02-18 11:47:37 +0000

2019-02-04 11:16:41 +0000

Not Coul is FUND RAISING at this critical moment to oppose this golf development. We are only opposing group fighting on all fronts: environment AND economics. We have a great team of experts for Public Inquiry, starting on 26th February. Together, with the formidable nature conservation & access charities coalition, we can defeat the planning application.

2019-02-03 12:22:22 +0000

2019-01-25 21:26:22 +0000

WEBCASTS of Planning Meetings June 2018 (archived for 1 year):
I will keep these links near the top of this heap because they reveal how many elected councillors prefer disingenuous propaganda to science & are dismissive of Highland Council planning policy, professional planning recommendation, expert government agency objections, over 90,000 petition signatories & all those cogent objections submitted. You can read objections via links provided here but it is too late to object:

Andrew Weston

2019-01-12 21:04:15 +0000

Not Coul 38 Degrees Coul Links FUNDRAISING:

2019-01-11 23:20:55 +0000

Farming Today BBC Radio 4:

2018-12-29 01:08:39 +0000

2018-12-17 22:28:07 +0000

2018-11-27 11:56:54 +0000

Not Coul chairman, Dr Tom Dargie, wins Nature of Scotland Political Advocate of the Year Award 2018!

2018-11-01 01:50:20 +0000


2018-10-29 10:32:10 +0000

The Scottish Government Planning and Appeals Division (DPEA) has circulated an agenda for the PRE-EXAMINATION MEETING which is scheduled to be held on Wednesday 31 October 2018 at The Carnegie Hall, Clashmore, near Dornoch, IV25 3RG.

2018-09-21 18:33:02 +0100

2018-09-15 12:25:36 +0100

2018-08-25 09:55:58 +0100

Government intervention:

2018-08-19 14:23:14 +0100

2018-08-14 22:31:55 +0100

2018-08-12 11:45:02 +0100

2018-08-07 10:33:26 +0100

2018-08-01 00:41:28 +0100

EXTENSION until 28 August 2018 for Scottish Government call-in decision:

2018-07-30 11:59:13 +0100

Likely denotification of Trump's Menie Golf Club Foveran Links SSSI:

2018-07-27 20:16:56 +0100

2018-07-26 21:23:31 +0100

2018-07-22 20:21:34 +0100

2018-07-17 10:46:19 +0100

Latest Coul Links Ltd propaganda website makes low viewpoint on felled conifer plantation appear like The Somme battlefield aftermath (although it is quite biodiverse & just needs time to recover, not turfing):
Not Coul Gallery is more positive:

2018-07-12 00:42:07 +0100

Trump golf course 'destroyed' dunes:

2018-07-09 22:58:08 +0100

BBC TV One Show 7pm Wednesday 11 June 2018 featuring short feature on Coul Links:

2018-07-04 21:54:08 +0100

2018-07-04 01:36:58 +0100
"Todd Warnock, the Coul Links developer, said the project involved less than 1 per cent of protected habitat".
Chair of Planning Committee said that local opinion is about evenly divided. SNH figure for immediate habitat loss is 40.5 acres of SSSI. Most of the non-SSSI dunes are of equal ecological value. Development support has been gained by hoodwinkery about environmental friendliness. The main developer is Mike Keiser & Todd Warnock is the charm-offensive man. Latter never tires of that misleading argument, which presumes damage will be contained to golf footprint & ignores the fact that Loch Fleet SSSI is predominantly tidal mud & sand estuary, where even Keiser would not build; & there are substantial areas of pinewood, beach & saltmarsh.

2018-07-03 23:26:34 +0100

'Good Morning Scotland' 7 July 2018
Slide player to 36:00, 1:36:00 & 2:36:00 for Coul Links items (note BBC radio precision).
Available to listen to for July only.

2018-07-03 10:20:57 +0100

2018-07-02 23:49:14 +0100

2018-07-01 10:32:59 +0100

2018-06-28 23:52:15 +0100

to save Coul Links and urge the Scottish Government to call-in the decision:

2018-06-27 00:42:15 +0100

2018-06-26 15:34:21 +0100

A wild and remote stretch of Scotland’s northeast coast has been hailed as “the most important dune lichen habitat site in the British isles”.

2018-06-24 00:21:56 +0100

An unfortunate link in this long-awaited Guardian article, which Directs readers to the developer's propaganda, misinformation & disinformation website, attempting to breathe death into Coul Links & criticising Not Coul ecologists. As was evident at the recent special Planning meeting, elected councillors believe this development propaganda about habitat gains, against expert & scientific recommendations and objections, and one said that the developer cannot be faulted.
For most things Coul, please refer to this reliable & impartial website, but read developer's statements & propaganda with caution:

2018-06-21 14:56:37 +0100

We have only a few weeks to urge the Scottish Government to call-in the decision:

2018-06-21 14:56:12 +0100

The Times: "Councillors ignore environment to approve £8m Coul Links plan":

2018-06-20 12:31:33 +0100

In the Special Planning Meeting of 20 June 2018, Councillors have agreed to approving the planning application for the golf course, with only one (Cllr Craig Fraser) against and one abstainer. The decision is against the recommendation of the Planning Officer to refuse and against the objection of expert scientific advice of Scottish Natural Heritage. Therefore the planning application will now be for Scottish Ministers to decide or possibly be the subject of a Local Public Inquiry. I hope the ecological and flood defence details aren't lost there, prioritising economy to the impoverishment of nature that money should not be able to buy.
Andrew Weston

Read development propaganda nonsense with caution:

2018-06-20 10:29:27 +0100

(archived for one year).

2018-06-16 23:32:10 +0100

NB Chair of Not Coul, Dr (not 'Mr' as is being repeated) Dargie, is one of the leading dune ecologists in the UK & has surveyed 95% of Scotland's dunes and machair habitats for Scottish Natural Heritage. Other members of the opposition campaign are surprised his judgement on hydrological impacts on the ecology have been dismissed by SEPA.

SNH's objection states: "The water table and water chemistry of Coul Links are very important as they influence the sand dune vegetation communities which they support, especially the sand dune habitats. Fertiliser, herbicide or pesticide could be washed towards or even into a dune slack potentially damaging these dune habitats."

2018-06-16 10:18:27 +0100

Highland Council Planning Committee SPECIAL MEETING & WEBCAST about Coul Links is scheduled for Wednesday 20 June 2018. Scottish Environment Protection Agency has submitted new comments but no objections on hydrological or sea defence damage. Scottish Natural Heritage's objection remains: "We object to this proposal as it will result in significant adverse effects on sand dune habitat of national importance".

2018-06-11 13:19:07 +0100

2018-06-07 14:53:34 +0100

Planning meeting webcast 5 June 2018 (archived for 1 year):
The decision has been deferred, pending SEPA's consideration of extra material provided by Not Coul (timeously) about Ramsar wetland impacts & potential contaminated land. SEPA was 'relying on the accuracy of the habitat assessment that the applicant submitted' & Not Coul has questioned this with supporting evidence.
Andrew Weston

2018-06-06 12:08:33 +0100

Not all the Planning Committee spoke, so some may be minded to vote differently & follow the Planning Officer's recommendation to refuse planning permission, when the decision is made.
Several councillors spoke to say they are minded to approve of the development, disregarding the legal protection, Highland Council environmental policy, the recommendation of the Planning Officer, expert advice of Scottish Natural Heritage & the cogent & detailed objections of many conservation & access charities, Not Coul, independent ecologists, naturalists, golfers and other individuals, let alone the 89,000 petition signatories, c.2,000 of whom live in Highland Council region.
For reference (too late to object now):

2018-06-05 23:05:08 +0100

"First minister must step in to save precious habitat from destruction"

2018-06-05 10:27:18 +0100


Agendas, reports and minutes of North Planning Applications Committee

Agenda for Tuesday, 5 June 2018, commencing 10:30 am

Item 6.1 Coul Links golf course:
Development of 18 hole golf course, erection of clubhouse, renovation of existing buildings for maintenance facility, pro-shop, caddy hut, workshop, administration building, information booth, formation of new private access from C1026
Members are asked to agree the recommendation to refuse ...

Item 6.2 Coul Farm golf course reservoir & boreholes [outside SSSI]:
Members are asked to agree the recommendation to grant ...

2018-06-05 00:33:29 +0100

2018-06-01 10:17:01 +0100

2018-05-31 00:58:42 +0100


Dr Dargie surveyed 95% of Scotland's dunes for SNH. He parted company with Trump after his recommendation to avoid Foveran Links SSSI was ignored. That site may be denotified as an SSSI. Coul Links is more biodiverse and more highly protected (SSSI, SPA & Ramsar).

Aerial photo shows gorse in flower and the degree of developer's exaggeration about its invasion, which is being used to lever development.

Architect Coore told GCA: “Coul does not remind me of any site with which we have worked before. With its varied natural landforms and environments, it has a more multi-character feel than is generally seen at the majority of classic seaside links ... Coul has some of the most natural and interesting green sites we have ever discovered on any site ..."

So why create yet more of the same artificial biopoverty?

2018-05-29 00:47:10 +0100

SEPA's objection pertains largely to areas outside the SSSI & doesn't mention the folly of building golf courses on eroding foredunes.
Earlier SNH objection to dune habitat loss and 'significant adverse effects' remains and ecologists not on the developer's payroll would judge is insurmountable:

2018-05-28 12:28:33 +0100

2018-05-27 12:29:27 +0100

I believe the planning hearing is scheduled for 10:30 am on 5 June 2018 at Highland Council Inverness HQ. Public wishing to attend the planning meeting & listen to the case officer's Coul Links presentation could check with Communications & Resilience Office. I don't believe that public will be allowed to contribute. If too many attend, they might queue, camp or jostle for space & chairs:

2018-05-21 13:50:18 +0100

SWT revised blog with new graphics:

2018-05-14 19:32:48 +0100

As advertised by Highland Council in The Northern Times and Edinburgh Gazette, an addendum to the planning application now results in a 28-day EXTENSION for PUBLIC COMMENT until 25 May 2018.

2018-05-11 10:03:38 +0100
Mayor Schamehorn of Bandon, Oregon: "Concerns that people have now will be gone once the course is developed ... He does everything first class and in a very environmentally friendly way. Mike Keiser is good for the economy and good for the environment.”

The Scottish Natural Heritage objection's figure for direct loss of SSSI habitats is not 34.6 acres but 16.4 hectares or over 40.5 acres. The proposed dune habitat loss outside the SSSI, on land of similar ecological importance, tends to be written off, even without taking account of the long-term effects of weakened coastal flood defences and golf management.
Cameron La Follette is a lady, although referred to as 'he'.

Bandon, Oregon news:

2018-04-22 12:21:07 +0100
NB 'gold course' Freudian slip.
'Dornoch Area Community Council chairwoman Yvonne Ross said that, to date, the community council “has not had one phone call, e-mail or letter from any members of the public”'.
Announcement of October 2017 shows that community groups & others had already made up their minds based on developer's influence & dodgy ecology:
(NB development PR is now handled by
DACC contact details for locals:
Minutes provided on request include March 2018:
"Todd Warnock is looking for support from the Community Council for an advertising campaign & has asked for permission to use our logo. This has been checked with Planning & they have no concerns in us giving support in this way."
Andrew Weston (Ecological Surveyor)

2018-04-19 12:02:26 +0100

Internet search for 'Coul Links' still tells untruths:

"Coul Links: supported by the community| Dornoch and Embo/Coul Links is a fantastic opportunity to boost the local economy and protect a wonderful site. The local community supports Coul Links." Coul Links Limited

PETITION SIGNATURE DEMOGRAPHICS on 22 December 2017 by postcode:
SCOTLAND: AB 1,575; DD 857; DG 581; EH 4,035; FK 802; G 3,195; HS 76; IV 1,820; KA 873;
KW 342; KY 1,166; ML 636; PA 950; PH 863; TD 437; ZE 99.
TOTAL ENGLAND, WALES & NI (+mistypes): 68,479
TOTAL UK: 86,786.

IV=Inverness (including Dornoch & Embo); KW=Kirkwall (including Golspie).

A more detailed analysis of postcodes shows that Highland Council region signatories against Coul Links golf development were 1,965 on 22 Dec 2017.


2018-04-03 18:07:02 +0100

Excellent downloadable PODCAST (28 minutes):
'Dunes into Bunkers' ~ BBC Radio 4 'Costing The Earth'
Tuesday 3 April 15:30 & Wednesday 4 April 21:00
Peter Gibbs (meteorologist) investigates the environmental impact of Trump's golf development on 'protected' dunes at Menie and the controversy over the proposed new course at Coul Links.

Radio 4 Pick of the Week (episode available until 8 May: drag slider to 13:25):

NB Dornoch Courthouse was not derelict as described. I don't criticise what has been achieved for business & employment at the former Courthouse in Dornoch, but here is a photograph of the 'derelict' building in March 2015, before it was refurbished for a change to different uses & exterior paintwork changed to dark blue:


2018-04-02 14:41:07 +0100

Wildlife in Scotland has weaker protection against damaging developments than wildlife in England and Wales, according to emails released by the government’s conservation agency, Scottish Natural Heritage.
"The regime for safeguarding vital wetlands under the international Ramsar Convention is “stricter” south of the border says SNH, prompting fears that Scotland’s wildlife could “lose out in a race to the bottom”.

The legal framework for devolving Ramsar protected wetlands to Scotland is confusing, as they are the responsibility of Defra.

2018-03-26 10:41:13 +0100

SEPA revised response:

SEPA's response pertains mostly to land outside the SSSI, some of which is of SSSI quality, particularly dunes, springs & heath near Embo, but doesn't mention the dangers of excavating latter's Big Dune sea defence.
Northern Times article refers to this petition's signatories as being from 'across the world' but the signatures are all from UK postcodes.

2018-02-22 00:35:39 +0000

News from an associated proposed development in Nova Scotia:

2018-02-19 11:22:51 +0000

Coastal erosion prospects for Coul Links Ltd & some Fonseca's seed-fly science:

Commissioned Report No. 618
"Survey and ecology of Botanophila fonsecai ... endemic to Scotland"
© Scottish Natural Heritage 2013
'...the greater part of Coul Links was out of bounds because of landowner objection'.

Mike Keiser donation to Heartland climate change denial institute:

Aftermath of storm at Embo, December 2012, after larger overnight waves had subsided:

2018-02-07 12:50:53 +0000
Greens' John Finnie challenges government over Coul Links:
Open Championship venues such as St Andrew's and Royal Troon could be under water by the end of the century if sea levels rise even slightly as a result of climate change, according to a new report:
Climate Coalition report:

2018-02-05 23:03:11 +0000

'The Ferret' with some Freedom of Information disclosures:

2018-02-04 11:27:42 +0000

American tycoon getting cosy with Scottish Government over golf course plans - can this be happening again?

2018-01-30 10:13:52 +0000

Meanwhile a parallel controversy is brewing in Inverness County, Nova Scotia, Canada over the proposed expansion of the Cabot Links & Cliffs golf courses, a Keiser private co-enterprise, into public state-owned dunes at West Mabou Beach:
'Eco-friendly' 'recycling [of] communities':

2018-01-16 15:59:25 +0000

2018-01-09 14:28:54 +0000

Golf developers and supporters still displaying ignorance, panto-style lack of ecological nuance and cavalier attitude towards nature conservation and protection designations, like Ramsar:

Not Coul rebuttal to fake information on developer's website:

2017-12-22 00:00:09 +0000

The PETITION is STILL ACTIVE but was delivered to Highland Council ePlanning on 21 December & again late on 22 Dec deadline, when it stood at 86,786 UK signatures.
18,307 signatories are resident in Scotland & of those 1,820 (c.10%) are from the Inverness postcode & 342 from the Kirkwall postcode (mainly Caithness & Orkney). Edinburgh, Perth, Shetland and Borders postcodes had very good results relative to population size. Population analysis shows strong support in N Scotland, followed by a weighting towards more eastern postcodes. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen & Kirkcaldy postcodes led the numbers table, with respectively 4,035; 3,195; 1,575 & 1,166 signatures.
Thanks greatly for all this & continued support throughout the UK.
The applicants are still intent on development.
Andrew Weston

2017-12-21 21:27:36 +0000

2017-12-21 13:36:24 +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.
Andrew Weston

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

2017-12-19 11:44:07 +0000

Some very apt commentary here below the article (AW):

2017-12-17 10:55:21 +0000
"impinging on 1.1% of the Loch Fleet SSSI, seemed to make it a no-brainer."

This ignores several truths: the SSSI is predominantly tidal estuary; an ecological principle of comparing similar habitats, respecting specialised dependent wildlife, like dunes or dune micro-habitats or food-plants; the substantial damage inside & outside the golf lawn from construction & management. Half Coul's coastal juniper, national priority habitat, c.95 plants, saplings to 5m-wide bushes, would be moved but not by Kew Gardens staff. The 'finest team in the world' has a poor conservation track record in Oregon. The option of siting the golf course less destructively is ignored. The monopolising of all coastal dune systems of any extent for golf would be a national disgrace. What is Coul Links as a percentage of the UK? Temperate coastal dunes are much rarer than tropical rainforest.
Andrew Weston

2017-12-14 22:47:44 +0000

2017-12-12 19:59:12 +0000

which does not separate the golf course & reservoir applications:

2017-12-09 15:17:15 +0000
Regarding armchairs, I am grateful for the publicity in the Golpunk articles but my photograph on its screenshot was not taken from one. I have recorded & quantified priority species & habitats on the Coul Links proposed lawns, that the developer's ecological surveyors failed to spot, & ecologically surveyed over a thousand square kilometres of land elsewhere for government bodies without an armchair; likewise Dr Dargie's survey of 95% of Scotland's dunes for SNH.
Councillor McGillivray of The Crofter 'armchair environmentalists' article (Nov 2017) should take note too when he peddles the same old invasive species & environmental net gain nonsense after SNH & many others have rejected them.
Andrew Weston

2017-12-05 22:03:31 +0000

"Golf course backers shrug off burgeoning opposition":

2017-11-28 10:51:16 +0000

"The [developer's] EIA [Environmental Impact Assessment] lacks a suitable level of detail and accuracy for a proposal in such an environmentally sensitive location."

2017-11-27 21:28:10 +0000

50,000 signatures reached

2017-11-27 18:11:59 +0000

20,000 signatures reached

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

2017-11-21 19:56:52 +0000
“Cars and cats kill more birds than golfers" (!):
The golf support letters were quoted in a circular criticising Dr Dargie to Highland Councillors from a Councillor who is chairman of EmboTrust, an investor in Coul Links Ltd.
The Councillors' Code of Conduct:

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

"There is shooting of wild fowl in the key winter breeding period" (!)

Subsequently the golf support letters were edited in a circular to Highland Councillors, from Councillor McGillivray, chair of Embo Trust, an investor in Coul Links Ltd. He wrote in the Northern Times (27.10.17) 'I personally have zero input into the planning decision ... and take no part in the ultimate decision.'

The Councillors' Code of Conduct:


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

The communities of Dornoch & Embo are divided over the proposed golf course & some community group leaders are undemocratically speaking for the entire community that they are meant to represent.

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 40 acres of lawn.

Andrew Weston
Ecological Surveyor

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 Mr Trump parted company when latter ignored ecological 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, like exaggerating invasive species to apply leverage to bogus arguments about a net biodiversity gain. 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


One supporter and investor is the Embo Trust, a charity and trading company, both since March 2017 registered as a limited company, which does not represent all Embo.
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, 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

PRESS ARCHIVE predating petition:

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

25 signatures reached

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

10 signatures reached