A thoughtful take. Thank you! I respect and agree with portions of your views.
There are a few areas where I would share some concerns,
and certainly would appreciate a bit more illumination.
First, on your belief that Dr. John would perhaps rethink his position in the light of Castle Stuart's dampening round numbers at RD's surrounding courses.
Did you know him? I hope you did, because he was an ace of a human being and a very wise man.
I wish he was still here. He thought deeply, and from a broad spectrum of nterests. He had GREAT affinity for the other area clubs, in fact telling me, with a wry smile, on several occasions, how much he, and other members loved traveling for away matches or just day trips for a go!
He certainly understood the economic pressure and challenges they faced, especially in slower years. I recall him mentioning that RD had some mighty quiet times after Lockerbie and a couple of other slow periods, when they resorted to car boot sales of household extras to raise money for the club! It got that dire at times....even for RD.
I'm not sure that adding Coul Links will lead to that much more play at Golspie or other courses, beyond what they are getting now from their proximity to RD.
First-timers, unless they are the savvy, or more discerning types, aren't venturing to the second tier offerings that first trip up, in most cases. Revisiting golfers generally will be back to immerse more locally, and the Dornoch area gets a fair share of those.
I believe that continuing to strengthen and sharpen marketing of what you HAVE, highlighting an overall experience worth lingering for, will deliver more than just the piggyback, or drafting effect of a Coul Links.
Refine YOUR product; make it special in the ways that are possible.
All that said, I do not think Dr. John would advocate disturbing that ground for golf or ANY other significant impact. He recognized, as most folks do that don't believe making money is the most important criteria, when making a decision, that certain places simply need to be left alone. Period.
Walking that now takes place at that Embo is a quiet, passive use. The impacts of a new golf course build alone, and then the radically altered daily activities of maintenance, and other needs to deliver for the belt notcher crowd that descends on the place during the season, WILL stress the wildlife inhabitants severely. That is a MAJOR problem, and you don't seem to be very
concerned about that.
Respecting that SOME wildlife can adapt to increased human intrusion within their environment, MANY can not.
There are breeding and resting areas in numerous locations there.
Is passing off disturbing that site, as acceptable collateral damage for an economic opportunity, really responsible stewardship of the land?
Given the VAST experience THAT development team has in creating exceptional golf ....on ALREADY altered ground, wouldn't the more prudent choice, for ALL involved, be to secure LESS environmentally sensitive ground for the project?
There are plenty of alternative parcels in the area, with the views and the setting to stoke that superb talent, to produce something special.
The excuse that it needs to be that Embo site, or they pack up and go home....to me calls into serious question as to what is really in play. And it should to YOU as well.
EVERYONE, including you, knows that place is very unique and something of rare quality.
It is an estuary area for goodness sake. SSI locations and the need for extensive ( but not really) bird studies...c'mon Alexander...you siimply DON'T put a golf course there!
Sure, you may be able to snake a routing in amongst the SSI, but that doesn't prevent the negative impacts. Again, certain species do not do well in heavy human traffic situations...which will be unavoidable in a golf course scenario.
This is particularly true when trying to find wayward shots on an often windblown course. How much width can be responsibly put into such a routing?
It floods...because thats how it should function. Alter than, and you are significantly changing the site. You mention the four water sources. More reasons to NOT build there.
It's not a question of vandalism, or that the architects would do illegal things, they wouldn't...it's that the "process" will be bias to finding a way to support approval, when in any proper decision, based on what's best for the ACTUAL inhabitants that use it, we KNOW that verdict is a NO GO on that Embo site!
Since they don't have a voice, other than the scanty studies offered as "evidence"...it's easy to skew the data to gain approval, and that once majestic site is degraded forever.
Sorry, that is the reality of what often goes down. Look at Balmedie
...a complete farce....ZERO integrity to that "process."
My rather detailed posts are not those of an expert, but of a fairly informed individual who has sadly, seen the same manipulated endgame firsthand in similar situations.
The squeeze is on for approval. It doesn't smell good.
I know the ground. That is NOT a responsible site for a links golf course.
In closing, I find it sad that a son of Embo feels that money is justification to forever alter the UNMATCHED natural importance and beauty of perhaps it's most arresting ground. WOW.
I hope it all works out, but a feeling of dread, for ALL the change it will bring. gripped me the moment I heard it might go under the blade... and it has only deepened.