AN AREA of Donald Trump's Aberdeenshire golf course which is of special scientific status is under review, it has been learned.

The status of the Foveran Links as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is being reviewed by Scottish National Heritage.

The environmental agency said the Menie golf course had caused habitat loss and damage to the protected dune system.

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The agency said it was assessing the scale of the impact to decide whether all or parts of the site should lose their special status.

An SNH spokesman said: "We're currently reviewing the SSSI boundary of Foveran Links and hope to complete this by the end of December.

"As expected, there are areas where there has been some permanent habitat loss - for example, where tracks, tees, fairways and greens have been constructed.

"There have been other habitat changes where, for example, mobile sand dunes have been stabilised through the planting of marram grass.

"Part of our review will be to assess the significance and scale of this loss and damage."

SNH regularly checks SSSIs for the special features they were selected for.

The spokesman added: "If they have changed, it's sometimes necessary to adjust the boundary and de-notify all or parts of the site."

The Foveran dune system has developed over the last 4000 years and, together with Forvie, forms the fifth largest area of wind blown sand in Britain.

The site is of special interest as it is one of the best dynamic dune systems of its type in North Western Europe, moving north at substantial speeds of up to 11 metres per year.

It is also of special interest for its botanical features, with only seven other dune sites in Scotland have a more diverse vegetation.

Jonny Hughes, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust said that the Trust was strongly opposed to the Trump development and that "it would be unsurprising if the SSSI status is removed."

Trump International Golf Links Scotland's executive vice-president, Sarah Malone, told the BBC that the future of the SSSI was "for the authorities to decide".

She said: "I don't think it matters to us. It may matter to other people and we'll be comfortable with whatever the option and the decision on that is," she said.

"We bought the site because of these extraordinary sand dunes. Why would we do anything to damage them?

"The fact of the matter is, contrary to what is propagated by a very small group of people, our environmental approach was first class."

US President Trump's golf course, called Trump International Golf Links, is part of a global portfolio of world-class golf resorts.

The site has been fraught with controversy since plans were developed a decade ago, and met with fierce opposition from environmentalists.

The group has recently submitted a planning application for a second 18-hole course at the Menie resort.

Unrelated plans are also underway for a proposed luxury 18-hole course at Coul Links in Sutherland which is protected as part of the Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet Special Protection Area and also a SSSI.

Both have been met with environmental oppositions.