The plans were fought by a conservation alliance which included major charities
Plans for an environment-wrecking golf development have been bunkered.
Proposals to build a course at Coul Links in the east coast of Sutherland look stuck in the rough after planners recommended its refusal.
This was greeted with joy by environmental campaigners and charities who say it would have destroyed a fragile sand dune ecosystem.
Here was an outcry when American multi-millionaires Mike Keiser and Todd Warnock applied for the massive development.
The response to Highland Council was unprecedented, with the planning application receiving 1,594 objections and one petition opposing the plans gathering almost 89,000 signatures.
Coul Links hosts a dune ecosystem of national and international importance and is protected by multiple conservation designation.
The plans were fought by a conservation alliance which included the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Buglife Scotland, Plantlife Scotland, Butterfly Conservation Scotland, the Marine Conservation Society and the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).
An official report by planning officers recommends that the development is refused, as it is contrary to the Highland Council development plan due to the “significant and permanent loss of sand dune habitat” it would cause. The officials also note that “residual losses are extensive and likely to be permanent”.
The application will be decided by Councillors at the Highland Council planning committee in Inverness next Tuesday – which also just happens to be World Environment Day.
“Coul Links is a truly fantastic place for wildlife. The permanent destruction of these rare and irreplaceable dune habitats is unthinkable.
“There are many alternative, less environmentally damaging, places where golf course can be built. We would be very happy to work with the developers to identify and progress development in a more suitable location.”
Stuart Brooks, the NTS head of natural Heritage policy, added: “There are many places in Scotland that you could build a golf course without harming the environment but one of the last intact sand dune systems is definitely not one of them.
“There are local and national policies in place to protect the environment and we urge the councillors to respect these and the benefits they afford everyone.
“This will be particularly relevant on World Environment Day, when this matter comes to the planning committee, which serves as a timely reminder that Scotland is blessed with some of the world’s most important places for nature and the commitments we have made to protect it and allow people to enjoy it.”