THE small Hebridean island of Jura could soon boast a world-class 18-hole championship golf course as part of a major investment in an estate.

Greg Coffey, the 41-year-old Australian hedge fund manager who owns Ardfin Estate, has drawn up the ambitious plans in a bid to make it one of the finest in Scotland.

The plan also aims to encourage more shooting trips and renovate the dilapidated farm steading and other properties in need of attention on the 14,000-acre estate.

The development of Ardfin, which incorporates the main settlement of Craighouse, has been described by estate manager Willie MacDonald as the most significant since Jura's distillery opened in 1963.

Two employees have been added to the payroll in the past three weeks, as the general improvements to the estate begin. And, should the private golf course plan go ahead, as many as nine people could be employed full time by the estate.

Mr MacDonald, who has worked on the estate for 34 years and is also chairman of the island community council, said: "I have seen the estate go through different phases but this type of investment goes way beyond anything I've ever seen

"It is more than just the golf course, it will have a big impact on Jura form the point of employment. It is incredible that someone could contemplate this type of investment in the island."

Asked what budget had been set aside for the project, Mr MacDonald replied: "There is no budget. How could you budget for it?"

The golf course plan is said to have had a positive response from the vast majority of islanders, who had been concerned about the environmental impact it would have.

The course would be built on the site of Ardfin Farm, which is no longer in agricultural use, but there are no new buildings outlined in the golf course plan.

The estate is in consultation with environmental groups, including Scottish Natural Heritage, and has this week begun a three-month consultation period before submitting a planning application.

Jura Community Council treasurer Alex Dunnachie said: "I think this estate owner could be one of the best things to happen to the island, if he is left alone to do what he wants to do.

"It is his land and he is spending money on it and that will improve infrastructure and employment on Jura.

"We were shown the plans at the service point and I didn't hear one negative comment."