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Highland MSP champions housing, not golf courses

By Tom Ramage

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Highland Green MSP Ariane Burgess had some advice at Aviemore yesterday for fellow local MSP Fergus Ewing (SNP): build houses here, not golf courses for American billionaires.

Speaking at the Rural Housing Scotland Conference being staged at the Macdonald Aviemore Resort, Ms Burgess advised: “The best way of supporting communities in areas like Sutherland is by building more homes, not by building golf courses on protected nature sites."

During a panel discussion, Ms Burgess commented: “Communities and businesses are rightly concerned about the significant fall in population in Sutherland but the answer to this is in creating homes and long-term, sustainable work – not more golf courses to further enrich billionaires."

'Houses, not golf courses' advises Ariane Burgess
'Houses, not golf courses' advises Ariane Burgess

Her comments come after Not Coul – the long-standing community campaign against golf developments on Coul Links – attended a Planning Democracy event in at the Scottish Parliament earlier this week examining how the new National Planning Framework is working in practice to enhance biodiversity.

Ms Burgess, who led the Greens’ work on the framework through Parliament said: “The policies in the National Planning Framework and local development plans are key to protecting our most special places for nature and people from inappropriate development but it’s clear communities are frustrated that these new policies are not always being followed through at local level.”

The First Minister, responding to a question from Fergus Ewing MSP, reiterated the importance of considering a range of factors including the impact on the environment as well as economic impact when deciding on planning decisions.

Mr Yousaf also emphasised the importance of investing in housing in retaining and attracting people to rural and island communities.

“It’s disappointing that, in a week when Mr Ewing chose not to come and listen to the local community’s concerns about the impact of the Coul Links plans on the local environment, he has instead chosen to use his platform in the Chamber to dismiss them. Perhaps Mr Ewing is only interested in community voices when they happen to echo the interests of American billionaires?”

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