Green light for golf course despite ancient wood loss

Aberdeenshire Council has approved plans for a controversial Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and housing development near Stonehaven which would cause the loss of over 25 hectares of ancient woodland.

At a full council meeting on 28 April, members voted 45 to 20 for the proposal, with one abstention, despite a report from the council's own officers recommending its rejection due to the impact on the ancient Slicewells Wood (HW 15 April) – a position echoed by Forestry Commission Scotland.

Chief planner Robert Gray said: "We have a golf course we can all get behind," while Cllr Graeme Clark said that while the development would impact on 25.5 of the 160 hectares of ancient woodland on the estate, significant replanting had already been committed to by the developer FM Group as part of the £80m project.

Golfing legend Jack Nickalus said he hoped the development would "protect and even enhance the existing environment".

Woodland Trust senior campaigner for ancient woodland Oliver Newham said: "Those opposed to the application have no right of appeal, so we have taken the one route left open, requesting the Scottish Government's planning minister calls in this application.

"If this doesn't happen then thoughts will turn to compensation, ensuring what is delivered best protects the remaining woodland habitat."

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