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Jon Wiggett

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #175 on: August 21, 2016, 06:47:24 AM »
It would surprise me if the representatives and experts were really using the language being reported in the this piece. There is a process in place for planning applications which lays down which bodies are to be consulted. The reason they have not been consulted is because they are not on this list as they should be discussing things with SNH. It will be interesting to see how this develops and what it actually turns up. On the point made about Trump's place it should not be forgotten that the planning process led to his project not being recommended and being refused by the planning authority. In that case the planning processed worked perfectly and it was political interference that scuppered the system.


Jon

Thomas Dai

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #176 on: August 21, 2016, 10:56:06 AM »
It's 'silly season' time in media-land so expect all sorts of stories to appear promoting various angles on various subjects.
Atb

David_Tepper

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #177 on: August 25, 2016, 12:39:23 PM »
In case anyone will be in the Dornoch/Embo area next week, there will be public presentations regarding the proposed Coul Links project in Dornoch on August 30 and in Embo on August 31.

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/highlands/1003336/public-get-second-chance-to-view-coul-links-golf-course-plans/ 

David_Tepper

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David_Tepper

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Simon Holt

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #180 on: September 23, 2016, 04:16:12 PM »
The implication that simply building a second high profile golf course would keep wealthy American's up in the town for longer frustrates me. 

I bet most people would be stunned at the number of golfers who travel up to play Dornoch but skip Castle Stuart.  If golfers are not all playing a World Top 100 Course that is hard not to drive past, then would they stay to play Coul Links?

[/size]I'm not saying it wouldn't help but they need to significantly upgrade the lodging for that demographic.  There is not enough good quality accommodation in Inverness, let alone Dornoch, to keep the wealthy American's up there for longer.I absolutely adore Dornoch; the town, the course and the club, but the well-healed guy needs more.  Hopefully Castle Stuart can push ahead with their second course and proposed lodging that will keep people up there for longer.  For the foreseeable future St Andrews and Gleneagles will remain the places wealthy US golfers want to stay for longer than 2 nights.


2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

Ian Mackenzie

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #181 on: September 23, 2016, 04:26:01 PM »
The implication that simply building a second high profile golf course would keep wealthy American's up in the town for longer frustrates me. 

I bet most people would be stunned at the number of golfers who travel up to play Dornoch but skip Castle Stuart.  If golfers are not all playing a World Top 100 Course that is hard not to drive past, then would they stay to play Coul Links?

I'm not saying it wouldn't help but they need to significantly upgrade the lodging for that demographic.  There is not enough good quality accommodation in Inverness, let alone Dornoch, to keep the wealthy American's up there for longer.I absolutely adore Dornoch; the town, the course and the club, but the well-healed guy needs more.  Hopefully Castle Stuart can push ahead with their second course and proposed lodging that will keep people up there for longer.  For the foreseeable future St Andrews and Gleneagles will remain the places wealthy US golfers want to stay for longer than 2 nights.

Cart vs. Horse I would think, Simon.
Americans (or others) do not need consummate luxury for lodgings. Look at Bandon, Cabot, etc.

When/if the first shovel hits the ground, watch how fast this place trades: http://www.bayhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/bay-dornoch-hotel-dornoch

Mostly (Shearings) pensioners spending 60 pounds/nt.
Great bones, UNBELIEVABLE location on first hole of RDGC, 105 rooms, but tired and worn.

It's been for sale for over a year. I wonder how much it is...ahem...appreciated since Coul Links conversations started.
Would make a perfect golfer's hotel.

Rich Goodale

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #182 on: September 23, 2016, 04:50:29 PM »
Dornoch now has a few overpriced gin palaces and a dwindling number of B&B's.  What it really needs is a Premier Inn or Travelodge, ideally where the abbatoir used to be, with a spit and sawdust bar at one and/or the other


The Burghfield House Hotel in Dornoch was the greatest golf hotel that ever existed, particularly in the 1970's and 1980's.


Requiescat in pace, my old friend.......

Life is good.

Any afterlife is unlikely and/or dodgy.

Jean-Paul Parodi

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #183 on: September 23, 2016, 05:22:35 PM »
Simon,


I do not follow how you think that a second course at Dornoch will not attract golfers to stay in the area longer but the same at Castle Stuart will or did I misunderstand?


I do think that a second course would be a positive thing and that it would encourage more golfers to stay in the area longer.


Rich,


I think you are pretty much spot on though any new hotel would be well advised to create multiple bedroom suites so groups of 8 to 10 have private space.


Jon

Simon Holt

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #184 on: September 23, 2016, 05:34:12 PM »
Hi Iain,

As has been said before, the Golf Club Atlas mindset is very much in the minority among travelling golfers.  Hotel quality dictates base location 99 times out of 100 for wealthy groups.  It's not an assumption.

Whatever happens I wish only the best for the town.  Great place and great people.
2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

Ian Mackenzie

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #185 on: September 23, 2016, 06:07:00 PM »
Rich - 


Agree on the budget nature of lodgings. Would love to see a "Marriott/Hilton/Hyatt Suites" or something buy the Dornoch Bay Hotel.
The bar in the hotel has great bones and a nice view. Would make a wonderful 19th hole.


Simon -


Castle Stuart is just a standalone course with nothing in the area. Dornoch has a town, etc. Makes for a better day and week destination. Apples/Oranges.


Jon -


Agree on room "format".
Bandon has perfected that. Small cottages with 4 bedrooms and shared LR/DR/Kitchenette. Brilliant.

Simon Holt

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #186 on: September 23, 2016, 06:34:17 PM »
Simon,


I do not follow how you think that a second course at Dornoch will not attract golfers to stay in the area longer but the same at Castle Stuart will or did I misunderstand?


I do think that a second course would be a positive thing and that it would encourage more golfers to stay in the area longer.




Hi Jon,

Sorry for any confusion. "I'm not saying it (Coul Links) wouldn't help (keep more goflers in Dornoch) but they need to significantly upgrade the lodging for that demographic"  My post was in reaction to the implication in that article that the second course alone would keep wealthy Americans in Dornoch.  That simply wouldn't be the case, in volume, without more top end accommodation.

The reference to Castle Stuart was their proposed lodging will hopefully work more than "just" adding their second course.  The new course and lodging will go hand in hand to make their package really appealing to travelling groups and tour operators as a destination.

I'm stating how to keep wealthy golfers in one place for more than one hit.  Decent golf and very good accommodation.  No doubt people will name exceptions but I'm stating the obvious that this gent from FineGolf may have overlooked.


Hi Ian - Forgive me but without a decent inventory of top end accom, I fear its a 36 hole day and out of there.  There is no arguing how nice Dornoch is as a town but on a limited time in Scotland most golfers are not here to walk around the town.






2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

PPallotta

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #187 on: September 23, 2016, 06:38:18 PM »
....In that case the planning process worked perfectly and it was political interference that scuppered the system.
Jon

I'd suggest that political interference didn't scupper the system, it is the system. 

A Deputy Minister I knew liked to pre-emptively silence those likely to complain about politicians interfering with the civil service by saying: "I'm glad that elected officials get to trump bureaucrats -- otherwise we'd all be living in the Soviet Union!"

A "humorous" and none-too-subtle way to tell his underlings that he expected them to play the game; when  politicians said "jump", the only right response was to ask "how high?"

If the "Yes, Minister" view of senior public servants was accurate once, it certainly isn't any longer. In my experience, the only type of official who now rises to the upper echelons of the bureaucracy is the one who thinks himself/herself savvy enough to simply and always ask "how high"....though not in those exact words of course.
 
Peter

     
« Last Edit: September 23, 2016, 06:55:38 PM by Peter Pallotta »

Daryl David

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #188 on: September 23, 2016, 06:42:56 PM »
The implication that simply building a second high profile golf course would keep wealthy American's up in the town for longer frustrates me. 

I bet most people would be stunned at the number of golfers who travel up to play Dornoch but skip Castle Stuart.  If golfers are not all playing a World Top 100 Course that is hard not to drive past, then would they stay to play Coul Links?

I'm not saying it wouldn't help but they need to significantly upgrade the lodging for that demographic.  There is not enough good quality accommodation in Inverness, let alone Dornoch, to keep the wealthy American's up there for longer.I absolutely adore Dornoch; the town, the course and the club, but the well-healed guy needs more.  Hopefully Castle Stuart can push ahead with their second course and proposed lodging that will keep people up there for longer.  For the foreseeable future St Andrews and Gleneagles will remain the places wealthy US golfers want to stay for longer than 2 nights.

The Links House in Dornoch is a significant upgrade in lodging and they will be opening more rooms next summer.

http://www.linkshousedornoch.com/

Rich Goodale

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #189 on: September 23, 2016, 07:30:21 PM »
Rich - 


Agree on the budget nature of lodgings. Would love to see a "Marriott/Hilton/Hyatt Suites" or something buy the Dornoch Bay Hotel.
The bar in the hotel has great bones and a nice view. Would make a wonderful 19th hole.

[/quote
As you may or may not know, in the 1920's when the good and great (Wethereds, Holdernesses, etc.) visited Dornoch, they took the train from Golspie and stayed at was then the Dornoch Hotel.  It does have great "bones" but its intestines are 100 years old.  Trust me.  I've stayed there with my wife and sprogs a few times and its has potential but need LOTS of money to become attractive to people who live in the 21st century.
Life is good.

Any afterlife is unlikely and/or dodgy.

Jean-Paul Parodi

Jon Wiggett

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #190 on: September 24, 2016, 02:49:47 AM »
....In that case the planning process worked perfectly and it was political interference that scuppered the system.
Jon

I'd suggest that political interference didn't scupper the system, it is the system. 

A Deputy Minister I knew liked to pre-emptively silence those likely to complain about politicians interfering with the civil service by saying: "I'm glad that elected officials get to trump bureaucrats -- otherwise we'd all be living in the Soviet Union!"

A "humorous" and none-too-subtle way to tell his underlings that he expected them to play the game; when  politicians said "jump", the only right response was to ask "how high?"

If the "Yes, Minister" view of senior public servants was accurate once, it certainly isn't any longer. In my experience, the only type of official who now rises to the upper echelons of the bureaucracy is the one who thinks himself/herself savvy enough to simply and always ask "how high"....though not in those exact words of course.
 
Peter

   


Peter,


though a good point it not accurate in this case as the planning committee which rejected the planning proposal in the first place was made up of locally elected politicians who are not interested so much in the national picture but are rather beholden to their electorate. It was the national executive at Holyrood that stepped in and overruled.


Jon

Niall C

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #191 on: September 24, 2016, 08:19:04 AM »
Simon

I'm interested to read your comments as you have an inside track on the tour operator perspective. Does on site lodging not reduce your value in the sense it's easier for golfers to organise their won trip a la Bandon ? Also doesn't Skibo effectively act as the place to stay for the wealthy visiting golfer going to Dornoch area ?

Rich

I recall the Burghfield House Hotel with great affection having spent a few family holidays there when I was a nipper. I've also spent a couple of nights in the Bay Hotel in the last couple of years. As you say, very tired. Also the difference between the Burghfield House then and the Bay Hotel now, or perhaps most hotels now, is that back then the family stayed for a week. The hotel was the destination. Now it seems everyone is moving through on the way to somewhere else.

Niall

Simon Holt

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #192 on: September 24, 2016, 10:36:12 AM »
Hi Niall,


It's actually much more helpful for us to have onsite accom.  At our level the client is not thinking about saving by arranging the trip himself.  Its not difficult to organise a trip to Scotland but there is lots of time saving measures that are important to the guys we are talking about.  Especially when they wont to fit so many courses in such a short timescale.


Then the opportunity cost which is way out of whack in terms of the time spent planning the trip versus what he/she could earn in that time, or better still, be spending his/her limited leisure or family time doing.  Unless that is, they get a real kick out of putting all the pieces together, which they kind of get to do anyway with someone like us to bounce ideas off. 


I'm not a wealthy man but I'd buy a package ski holiday every day of the week even though I've done it all myself in the past.  I've not got the time!


Most here know how to put a golf trip together but some are way off on what the top end guys wants.  No doubt there are exceptions to the rule but in general, here you are:


It's St Andrews or bust for 95% of new clients.  They will only come if the Old is on the itinerary
[/size]Similarly in Ireland its Portrush and RCD or bust for the North - Ballybunion for the South
They want all the top courses, which translates to Open rota, Kingsbarns and MAYBE Dornoch if they are a list guy
Only on repeat trips are they open to suggestions like North Berwick, Cruden Bay, Crail - in addition to the must haves
They only come for 5-7 days if they are still working
They only want to stay in 5* hotels with all the associated facilities in a town/resort where they can eat well every night - the pub food novelty wears off after one sitting but they will happily get stuck into the drinking scene after a decent feed elsewhere
Unless its a couples trip its extremely rare for guys to take much of a walk around or do anything outside of golf, eat and drink
Luxury van and driver


No amount of preaching will convince this type of client they are doing it the wrong way - they are A type personalities.  Plus it's no-ones to place to tell them they are wrong since its their vacation.


This is why Turnberry is already very high-occupancy next year even though its the most expensive golf resort in the country, and in the middle of nowhere, 40 minutes from the next world class course.  It has all the bells and whistles so that demographic wants to stay there.


Compare Turnberry to Troon, which has that great cluster of superb golf within 5-10 minutes drive.  It has no really outstanding hotel or food so we don't place anyone there.  The ones we have historically have complained so why would we risk losing a client by giving them the "its not about where you stay its the course you play" line?


Gullane is another good example.  Lots of courses right there, even more within 10 minutes drive.  Arguably as golf rich as anywhere in the country but no great hotel.  Greywalls is quaint but lacks any Spa which doesn't cut it anymore.  On a personal level you know it kills me to say that about East Lothian!  They all stay at the Caley or the Balmoral and take the 40 minute drive on the chin.


Hopefully that gives some insight as to what that guy wants.  Once again, thats purely pulling apart the Fine Golf article that seemed to imply that the second course would keep wealthy tourists in Dornoch longer when I know that alone will not do the trick.  I'd just get them in an out on a heli, they would maybe take the drive from Inverness and do 36 in a day, or they would just play one and get out.


Links House is very nice but there are so few rooms, even with the new building, it doesn't come close to the scale it would need to get the wealthy guys staying there on mass a la Gleneagles, Turnberry or Old Course.....and hopefully never will.  Dornoch is just fine the way it is but its for the local people to decide that.


Clearly if it was me on a mates trip I would do it differently!  I love the place.















2011 highlights- Royal Aberdeen, Loch Lomond, Moray Old, NGLA (always a pleasure), Muirfield Village, Saucon Valley, watching the new holes coming along at The Renaissance Club.

BCrosby

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #193 on: September 25, 2016, 08:12:06 AM »
Simon -


Thanks for the summary. Your take on things is spot on. You describe well what many of my friends look for when they book a golf trip to Scotland or Ireland.


A mystery to me is why there are not more tours of courses around London. I'm thinking Surrey and Kent. Or are there?


Bob




Niall C

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #194 on: September 26, 2016, 12:21:08 PM »
Simon


I can understand these guys wanting to do it in style and of course you will look to cater for their needs. From the perspective of the golf club however I wonder how much of their market comes from the 5 star brigade that you describe ? Should the club worry about catering for these guys as after all they pay exactly the same green fee as the regular punter.


The club I play at isn't on the A list but nonetheless is an Open Qualifier therefore gets a decent level of visitor income. I'm advised it was c.£200K the other year of which 75% came from UK&I visitors, 17% from continental Europe (Germans counting as the largest portion) and the rest largely from the US. It's likely that the vast bulk of the UK&I visitors won't be paying top dollar for accommodation and I suspect the same goes for the continental Europeans.


To my way of thinking, from the clubs perspective they would be much better off with good affordable accommodation being nearby rather than the top end accommodation. Arguably the 5 star guys might pay a higher green fee but are you going to get enough of them to make up for the shortfall in visitor numbers if you hiked the prices up ? Judging by the way a lot of clubs have increased their prices in recent years then possibly yes, which just shows you how solid my logic is  :-\


Niall

Ian Mackenzie

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #195 on: September 26, 2016, 01:11:27 PM »
I see Niall's point here.
There will always be the hi-end "box-checkers" who need to play Trump, Castle Stuart and RDGC before hitting Gleneagles, etc.


But, I get the impression that the Coul Links project seeks to create an anchor for tourism in the Highlands who want to come to Dornoch as their "hub" and then have the choice to play 1. RDGC 2. Coul 3. Brora 4. Golspie 5. Castle Stuart 6. Tain 7 Nairn 8. Moray -  and perhaps even Boat of Garten or Wik  (all within 30-90 mins drive from Dornoch) all within a 15 to 90 minute drive?[size=78%]; perhaps for 2-3 nights before moving on down the road.[/size]


Yes, I've stayed at Links House and it is superlative for sure. But, in subsequent trips (with the Mrs.), we have stayed at B&Bs - specifically at No. 9 - and had a fantastic experience for less than 1/3 the price of Links House. Each time we encounter golfers from Sweden, UK, US there all seeking the same thing: value and comfort.


From my own experience, (as a US tourist) I dont need 5 star accomadations. In fact, it can be a negative if - as an example - I need to stay at "The Old Course Hotel" as part of some package to play TOC.


I think a larger questions is: will golf tourists seek to play Coul Links in Scotland instead of playing the older established courses?
Mike Keiser has always been a proponent of "destination courses". Bandon, Cabot and certainly Barnbougle are all remote and, for some, harder to access than Dornoch. In fact, I have heard that Cabot was booked SOLID all season.


Bill Coore says Coul is the best site he has ever seen. Given that his latest courses have all debuted in the "global top 100", what happens if Coul is in "Top 50"? Will golfers make a special trip to play it and RDGC or simply play it if they happen to be up there?

RDGC sees about 10,000 visitor rounds per year. I wonder what % are from "transient" tour groups. Simon, any guesses?
« Last Edit: September 26, 2016, 01:27:09 PM by Ian Mackenzie »

Thomas Dai

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #196 on: September 26, 2016, 03:05:22 PM »
There's a very nice post from Simon above which begs me to ask the question of whether there are
any particular times of the year when the 5-7 day big name course trip visitors tend to concentrate?

The reason I ask is they are the sort of trippers who I suspect many herein hope to avoid so details of usually quiet periods within such tour schedulings would be nice to know.

Atb

David_Tepper

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Brian_Ewen

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #198 on: August 01, 2017, 11:17:53 AM »
https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/highlands/1299771/major-plans-for-world-class-golf-highland-golf-course-poised-to-be-unveiled/



Major plans for world class golf Highland golf course poised to be unveiled
by JAMIE MCKENZIE
August 1, 2017





Major plans for a new world class Highland golf course are poised to be unveiled in the coming weeks.


The US developers behind the £6-10 million Coul Links project, businessman Todd Warnock and renowned golf course developer Mike Keiser, could submit their planning application next month.


The investors had been expected to lodge the plans for the golf course – zoned for a site just north of Embo in Sutherland – at the start of this year.


Mr Warnock, who owns the Links House hotel and Carnegie Courthouse in Dornoch, said previously that Coul Links would reverse a present trend of golfers coming to play Royal Dornoch for a day but returning to their Inverness base, without staying and contributing further to the east Sutherland economy.


He also said that his team, led by renowned golf course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, can build the course in an ecologically sensitive way.


But conservationists maintain that the development would have a negative impact on the area’s untouched coastal dune habitats.


The site is in a special protected area and has designated sites of special scientific interest.


East Sutherland and Edderton councillor Jim McGillivray, who lives in Embo, said: “It seems that September looks to be the likeliest opportunity for the plans to go in.


“We will need to wait and see what happens, as it will be up to the developer.


“There is a full appreciation of the potential of the site for an international links golf course. I think they believe also that they can overcome the environmental challenges.”


In May, experts from RSPB Scotland, Butterfly Conservation and Buglife Scotland gave public presentations on the ecological importance of the Coul Links dune system.


Residents questioned why so much was being made of the threat to Fonseca’s Seed Fly – a critically endangered species – despite no solid evidence of the species existing on the Coul Links site.


Conservationists said that studies conducted on sites at Dornoch sands and Embo sands showed the presence of the fly which, given the similar habitat, could mean it is present on Coul Links.


But Mr Warnock said previously that when plans are published there will be a clear suggestion that the habitat for this fly would be “preserved, if not strengthened,” and that only 50 acres will be turfed.


Craig Macadam, conservation director at Buglife, said: “Hopefully they have taken into account all the things that have been raised during the consultation period and public meetings.


“I find it very difficult to see how a golf course could be engineered into the landscape without having a detrimental effect on the landscape.


“I am looking forward to seeing these plans after all this time.”


Jon Wiggett

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Re: Keiser's Coul Links Project (Embo/Dornoch)
« Reply #199 on: August 01, 2017, 04:15:54 PM »

Thanks for posting this Brian.


Interesting that the main objection is based on the theoretical existence of fauna not actual. This sort of thing does not help with the image. I wonder what they plan to spend £6 to £10 million on?


Jon

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