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Not Coul

Fighting to prevent an environmental disaster in Scotland

Coul Links Golf Course plans to excavate and develop on dunes protected as Special Protection Area, Ramsar and SSSI land

NOT COUL is a group of local Dornoch and Embo residents working strongly and effectively to STOP a huge golf course development  being built by American-led developers on one of Scotland's most eco diverse coastal sites at COUL LINKS. 

This SSSI site includes legally protected dunes, rare habitats and wildlife.


Six major wildlife and conservation charities are appalled by, and fighting, this proposal You can read the RSPB case file below or sign either or both of the petitions which have over 90,000 signatures so far. 

 Stop Coul Links Golf Course


Save our SSSI​​

Not Coul Facebook Group


The Not Coul campaign entered a new stage on 24th August 2018, the date of call in of the planning application by the Scottish Government. The golf development will now be decided by government ministers, after a public examination before two Reporter from the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA).

Changes are now being made to the website, removing material on how to object and adding content about the public examination. See Inquiry Page for details

We thank the thousands of people and the support of multiple wildlife groups who have backed our cause to date, as well as welcoming new support attracted to what is now a nationally-important struggle to stop development in protected areas.  

Not Coul will cover information which supports our many very serious concerns about this harmful scheme which is sited badly. It is located mainly on ground protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (Loch Fleet SSSI), a Special Protection Area (Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet SPA) and the Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance).

An alternative location with little likelihood of harm lies immediately inland, in the same land ownership. It has been ignored by the developers: Mike Keiser (a major golf resort developer on the world stage, based in Oregon), Todd Warnock (an entrepreneur based in Dornoch), landowner Edward Abel-Smith and the commercial arm of the Embo Trust (based in the village of Embo).

As before, website content is based on scientific evidence and economic analysis scrutinised by professional environmental scientists and economists. In a nutshell, our case for public examination is below.


However 'eco-friendly' it might be described in glossy print, public meetings, TV and radio soundbites, a new golf course can never be a substitute for our outstanding biodiversity. Coul Links is the very worst of places for building a golf course. The area is triple-protected because it is home to rare plants, animals and habitats that are nationally and internationally important. The developer's claims that a golf course would 'enhance' the site ecologically are carefully crafted to hoodwink local support and key decision makers. So far, only Scottish Natural Heritage has not been fooled. SNH has demonstrated that in reality the environmental integrity of the site will be significantly damaged and this underpins its objection to development on protected land.


The planning application has cherry-picked its effects on biodiversity to seem benign. Its environmental mapping and hydrology are not fit for purpose. It offers land with unmentioned invasive species and undeclared waste tips as mitigation. It misrepresents past nature management. It fails to consider the effects of golf chemicals on adjacent ground. It disregards advice on the threat of coastal erosion. It neglects the impact of climate change on a site already getting markedly wetter. Thus, all the basic tenets of environmental baselining, assessment and sustainability have been wilfully ignored or perverted. It has got this far in the planning system because all third-party evidence has been ignored. Not Coul evidence covers omissions, serious flaws and exaggerated economic benefits.


To describe this development as ‘eco-friendly’ is a travesty. Instead, it could set a precedent for future assaults on protected land in Scotland. The proposed Coul golf course is thus an existential threat to all UK designated land. Golf should not be doing this.