Scottish Natural Heritage has become the latest body to object to plans to build a new a golf course on the Sutherland coast.

The organisation has told Highland Council that the proposed development at Coul Links near Embo will harm plants and animals and will damage environmentally sensitive sand dunes.

SNH said that having considered all aspects, it is objecting to the proposal, submitted by American billionaire golf resort developer Mike Keiser, due to the extent of impact on the Loch Fleet Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Nick Halfhide, SNH's director of operations, said: “We have worked closely with the developer on this proposed new golf course and appreciate the efforts they have made in trying to mitigate the environmental impact.

“We recognise the many benefits the development would bring to Embo and the local economy, and we welcome the developers’ commitment to high standards of construction and management.

“However, we are not able to fully support the development as proposed due to the loss of more than 16 hectares of nationally important sand dunes, and the impact on the special plants and animals found there.”

The development proposals include an 18 hole golf couse, a clubhouse and access roads but also a range of measures to improve the management of the site for nature although SNH said it did not believe those outweigh the permanent loss to the sand dunes.

The objection follows similar ones lodged by the National Trust for Scotland, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and RSPB Scotland.

A spokesman for STRI, the project managers, said the wildlife and conservation value of the site was a "critical factor" for the development team with specialists employed to minimises initial impact of the course and provide long-term biodiversity gain.