Butterfly Conservation Scotland has joined a partnership of conservation organisations committed to fighting a proposal to build a golf course at Coul Links in east Sutherland. The partnership includes the Scottish Wildlife Trust, RSPB Scotland, Buglife, the Marine Conservation Society and Plantlife Scotland.
The charity has examined historical records for Coul Links and found records of 168 species of butterflies and moths. This includes records of 10 nationally scarce species and one Red Data Book species which was discovered for the first time in Britain at Coul Links.
Dr Tom Prescott of Butterfly Conservation Scotland said, "Our records indicate that Coul Links is a very special place. The site has survived development which is unusual for such a beautiful coastal location and this has allowed a wide range of specialised coastal species to live at Coul which have been lost from so many other locations. Turning Coul Links into a golf course would be a tragedy and would permanently damage a place that is home to many rare species.
"I urge the developers to think again. There must be more appropriate locations to develop a golf course than an irreplaceable natural jewel like Coul Links."
The very scarce Red Data Book listed moth only has a scientific name, Caryocolum blandelloides. It was discovered at Coul Links in August 1994. The moth is a specialist of undisturbed dune lands, a habitat that is regularly under threat from development. The adult moths fly in late July and early August.
Coul Links has already been discovered to be home to other very rare species of insect such as the Fonseca's seed-fly which occurs at very few other locations.
Bruce Wilson, Senior Policy Officer, Scottish Wildlife Trust welcomed the intervention of the Butterfly Conservation Society.
"This evidence underlines that Coul Links is not only beautiful but is also an important home for a wealth of rare species. It will be almost impossible to construct a golf course on Coul Links without causing unacceptable damage to internationally important sites.
"Last year's State of Nature Report gave a clear warning about the loss and fragmentation of our coastline, and demonstrated how unsustainable development is harming Scotland's wildlife and habitats.
"While we understand the community needs investment we feel that there are less damaging alternatives that could bring visitors to the area without jeopardising the area's rich natural heritage."