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Proposals for a “world-class” new golf course in the Highlands have taken another step towards fruition.

The planned links at Coul in Sutherland has proved controversial and led to clashes between locals, who are largely supportive, and conservationists who are against it.

A ballot carried out last year showed it had the support of 69% of local residents – and now the Communities for Coul (C4C) group has submitted a scoping application to Highland Council.

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“Our aim remains to achieve planning permission for one of the world’s most environmentally sensitive golf courses,” said Gordon Sutherland of C4C.

“It will use the income it generates to remediate the Coul Links SSSI and then sustain it for future generations.”

C4C claims a key component of the proposals is to restore and protect the Coul Links Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

It has studied other courses built on SSSIs, such as Askernish, Machrihanish and Skibo.

A number of plans are in place to address environmental concerns, including reducing the amount of land used for tees, greens and walkways by around 40%.

Fairways will be mown, instead of being stripped and replanted, and will be split into two or more sections to avoid fragmenting small colonies of flora and fauna.

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Two years ago the Scottish Government refused to grant permission for the development – despite widespread local support and a 16-1 vote by Highland councillors in favour.

Local leaders consider the new course vital for the area’s economy.

C4C is planning fundraising activities in order to be able to submit a fresh planning application this year.

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