Were the new holes at Renaissance SSSI ?
Partly. The 9th hole and 10th tee were in the SSSI ground. I believe the 10th fairway was out of it. The 11th hole was definitely not in the SSSI.
There did not seem to be a fundamental objection to work in the SSSI, as long as we avoided the critical areas flagged by Scottish Natural Heritage, which in our case were large communities of moss that prevented any fairways from being built in the dunes area. Except for the 10th tee, everything we built on had been covered by buckthorn, an invasive which SNH insisted we remove ... so they couldn't really object to planting that area with fescue and using it for the golf.
Those mossy patches we were asked to avoid are quite common on links sites in the UK and Europe ... I have noticed them in the roughs of several famous courses since then, and you can bet some used to be in the fairways, too. Avoiding them on a full 18-hole project would be very difficult, if everyone is being held to the same standard. They're the primary reason the routing at Machrihanish Dunes is disjointed, I presume.
Interestingly, we discovered during the permitting process that a bit of the original 18 holes were built on SSSI land -- the boundary of the SSSI was not quite the same as the property line, but no one had noticed.