The risk of inappropriate development
on Coul Links has not gone away.

The Threat

DESPITE THE RESOUNDING REJECTION of a previous proposal for a golf course on the site in 2019, the shadow of speculative venture still looms over Coul Links. The same jet-setting US billionaire and a London-based absentee landlord persist in their efforts of foisting a near-identical proposal upon these protected dunes. More determined than before, this wealthy band pose an even greater risk to Coul’s special ecosystem.

In the face of such opposition, Not Coul remains committed to gathering evidence on the profound implications of developing Coul Links and expose developer spin. From biodiversity loss and economic risk through to access restriction and social dissonance, the stakes are high for our local communities and for everyone who cares about Scotland’s natural heritage.

The Developers

AMERICAN BILLIONAIRE Mike Keiser is the developer behind the proposal. He has a track record of building luxury golf resorts, albeit often on or near protected or sensitive natural sites. London-based owner and absentee landlord of Coul Links Edward Able-Smith inherited the site and has no discernible track record in business.

Together with golf course architects Coore & Crenshaw, they seek to convert the protected Coul Links wilderness into a top 100 championship golf course. With golf being a highly competitive business, there is no guarantee of achieving this goal. Their push for a speculative development starkly contrasts with pressing the need to protect Scotland’s existing biodiversity and natural heritage.

Ecological Disaster

CONSTRUCTION WILL CHANGE the topography and fix the dynamic dune system in place. A constant stream of golfers will disturb & displace resident rare birds & animals. Designer grasses will need to be introduced to create industry standard playing surfaces. Greens, tees, fairways, paths and other infrastructure will replace rich habitat hectarage.

And no matter which way they try to resell it, rebrand it or greenwash it, a golf course spread throughout the Coul Links ecosystem will convert this 6000-year-old wild landscape into a manicured golf parkland

The Plan

Risky Business

WITH VASTLY OVER-EXAGGERATED employment opportunities, it’s clear the developers cannot be trusted to follow up on their sugar-coated promises. Far from diversifying the local economy, another golf course means doubling-down on a sector that is already well represented in the area. There is a surplus of hospitality jobs locally, with little appetite among residents to fill vacancies due to their seasonal nature.

More crucially, Coul Links is a shifting sand dune system, and it is erosional.  Coastal erosion has already affected the golf plan. This physical risk translates into economic risk, because the course will be fighting erosion from day one. Development here would fly in the face of Government policy to not build on land at risk from erosion.

Loss of Amenity

AS WELL AS A HOME for over 1,425 species, Coul Links provides a portfolio of valuable ecosystem services for people. Water filtration, education, recreation, coastal protection, pollination, carbon storage and more. The monetary value of these is difficult to quantify. However, a golf course on the site would degrade all these natural benefits, while converting a wild place into an exclusive luxury resort for jet-setting elites.

Political Manoeuvering

BACKED BY SUBSTANTIAL FINANCIAL RESOURCES, the developers have enlisted the aid of Glasgow-based consultancy Morrison Media, to orchestrate a shadowy campaign of exaggeration, astroturfing, and lobbying. This strategy of undermining our environmental protections mirrors that of Donald Trump’s notorious golf course project at Foveran Links, where development resulted in the destruction of one of Scotland’s natural wonders.

The developers seem to have no qualms about deliberately polarising local communities or wasting Scotland’s public money on another tax-payer funded inquiry.

100+ links courses in Scotland.
Only one Coul Links ecosystem.