BASC has joined a host of other conservation organisations in condemning plans to build a luxury golf course on one of the last undeveloped coastal duneland habitats in Scotland.
Developers for the Coul Links course, near Dornoch in Sutherland, claim in their planning application that the creation of the course would end shooting in the area and this would lead to “significant ornithological benefits”.
BASC is supporting the local wildfowling club, Dornoch and Cromarty Firths Wildfowling Association (DCFWA), in objecting to the plans ahead of the planning committee deadline for public comments on December 1, 2017.
BASC has highlighted that the public right to recreation on the foreshore – including wildfowling – cannot be terminated by a developer.
And the UK’s largest shooting organisation has also refuted claims in the developers’ environment statement that teal and wigeon would enjoy “greater winter survival” with the absence of shooting and the associated disturbance caused by wildfowlers.
Dr Colin Shedden, BASC’s Scotland director, said: “The developers may own the land but this does not mean they can terminate wildfowling on the foreshore surrounding the proposed golf course.
“The public right to recreation on the foreshore in Scotland, which includes shooting, cannot be terminated at a whim by a developer.
“It is also wrong to say that by banning shooting there would be greater winter survival. Most shooting losses are compensatory to other over-wintering losses. Wildfowlers work in partnership with statutory agencies throughout the UK to protect threatened habitats and species.”
Allan MacDonald, DCFWA secretary, said: “Most conservation organisations have argued against this development and, as a wildfowling organisation working for local conservation interests for the last 25 years, we support them.
“To argue that an end to shooting would bring immediate ornithological benefits goes against the well-defined ethos of shoot management working to assist conservation.
“In addition, BASC’s recent research has shown that disturbance from wildfowling is minimal compared to that from dog walkers and the general public. We have no idea where developers get the notion that wildfowling disturbance is a significant factor.”
John Dryden, BASC council member and chairman of the association’s Wildfowling Liaison Committee, said: “Scotland’s northern firths may be remote but they are very important for both local and visiting wildfowlers.
“Any threat to the wintering and breeding wildfowl’s habitat will be taken seriously by BASC and by other conservation organisations. We also take seriously any threat, real or otherwise, to the ability to shoot on the Scottish foreshore.”