Sand dunes damaged by Trump’s golf links at Menie stripped of conservation status

Rare sand dunes on the Aberdeenshire coast have lost their conservation status following the construction of the Trump International Golf Links course at Menie Estate.

image: for illustration purposes only

Scottish Construction Now writes:

…[rare habitats and plants] no longer have sufficient scientific interest to merit special protection…

…wholly unsurprising that the area will lose its SSSI status…

Public natural heritage body NatureScot, formerly Scottish Natural Heritage, said parts of the dunes on Foveran Links have lost their status as a nationally important protected wildlife site, after consideration of the scientific evidence by its Protected Areas Committee (PAC). The PAC concluded that, following the construction of the golf course on the dune system at Menie Estate, this area no longer merits being retained as part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

PAC, acting on behalf of the NatureScot board, took its decision following a formal consultation by NatureScot on the future status of Foveran Links SSSI and on consideration of advice from NatureScot staff, other representations and independent specialist advice.

Dialogue on potential denotification of the site between NatureScot and landowners has been ongoing since 2016. The decision comes after NatureScot set up a formal three-month stakeholder consultation period from June 2019 for stakeholders, who have been regularly advised of the process and given further opportunities to present their case before the statutory deadline of 18th December 2020.

Eileen Stuart, NatureScot’s interim director of nature and climate change, said: “There is now no longer a reason to protect the dunes at Menie as they do not include enough of the special, natural features for which they were designated.

“Trump International Golf Links Scotland have undertaken to deliver nature conservation management on the golf course and we value the work they have done to protect the remaining rare habitats and the rare plants on their site however they no longer have sufficient scientific interest to merit special protection.”

Foveran Links SSSI was a very high quality example of a sand dune system characteristic of north east Scotland, and was of exceptional importance for the wide variety of coastal landforms and processes….

Responding to the recommendation to denotify the course last summer, Scottish Wildlife Trust chief executive Jo Pike said: “As the Scottish Wildlife Trust and many others warned more than a decade ago, building Trump International Golf Links on a unique dune system has destroyed the dynamic nature that made it special. It is therefore wholly unsurprising that the area will lose its SSSI status….

The Highland Council voted in June 2018 to approve the development, which lies within the Loch Fleet site of scientific special interest (SSSI).

But the application was notified to Ministers due to an outstanding objection by Scottish Natural Heritage.

A notice published alongside the planning decision stated: “This decision has been made as the harmful impacts of this development to protected habitats and species would outweigh the potential socio-economic benefits.”

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