A hotel waiting for a golf course in a SSSI ... a hotel waiting for the duck shooting to stop ... a hotel that knows a Public Inquiry was fake news

It is planned to build a hotel at Coul Farm, overlooking Coul Links, four miles north of Dornoch on the east coast of Sutherland, Scotland.

The site of the hotel has sweeping views across the dunes of Coul Links where nature conservation interests are designated as being of international and national importance (Ramsar, Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation and Site of Special Scientific Interest). Coul Links is home to more than 1,400 species. A natural landscape providing an idyllic site for an "eco" hotel.

In May 2021 the proposal to build a hotel at Coul farm entered the planning process. However, if planning permission is granted, the developer has declared that building of the hotel will start only when planning permission is given for a golf course to be built on the dune system at Coul Links.

Plans to build a golf course and attendant infrastructure on Coul Links entered the planning process in December 2015. Amongst the activities proposed to mitigate the environmental impact (all of which could have been actioned without a golf course being built) was that the landowner would end the practice of shooting ducks on the protected site. After a four week Public Inquiry, in February 2020 The Scottish Government refused the golf course application on the grounds that "the likely detriment to natural heritage is not outweighed by the socio-economic benefits of the proposal". (See https://www.gov.scot/publications/planning-decision-na-hld-086/ )

In early 2021 plans for a golf course on the dunes of Coul Links were revived - new, "sustainable" and somehow improving habitats. In April the developer was confirmed as the developer behind the original golf course scheme; the designers confirmed as the architects of the original course who had declared their original routing the only one available for the creation of a "world-class" golf course. In March 2022 a scoping application was submitted to The Highland Council with the aim to "start work on the project in 2023".

An "eco" hotel that relies for its existence on a golf course built on land designated as being of international importance for nature conservation? Really?

Planning permission for phase one of the hotel was granted by The Highland Council on 22 February 2023.

A planning submission to The Highland Council (ref: 21/02644/FUL) can be found at https://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=QTTOG0IHIR700&activeTab=summary

Images of the planned hotel, designed by an undoubtedly talented architect, can be viewed at https://www.coullinkshotels.com  Strangely that website describes an "eco" hotel but there is no mention of the fact that the hotel is reliant on a golf course to be built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest that may, as the first golf course proposal did, threaten "potential significant adverse effects on protected habitats and species at Coul Links".

The case for a golf course at Coul Links is made at https://www.communities4coul.scot and at https://www.facebook.com/Communities4Coul/

Arguments against a golf course are made at https://notcoul.org and at https://www.facebook.com/groups/266150027087512/

An overview of the golf course proposals and links to material published over the years about the development are available at https://www.coullinksgolf.com

A petition opposing a golf course at Coul Links that currently has attracted more than 92,600 signatures can be found at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/conserve-coul-links-for-nature-not-golf-1 (Of the 2,318 public comments concerning the first golf course application lodged with The Highland Council, objectors outnumbered supporters by more than 5 to 1.)