AMBITIONS to make Scotland a global business hub and a centre for investment around the world are to be welcomed.

However the proposals by Scottish Natural Heritage to downgrade sand dunes on the land of Donald Trump’s Menie golf estate raises a question for debate – where should the balance lie between business development and protecting our environment?

Last year scientists announced that damaging nature is as bad for humanity and the planet as climate change, following a UN study.

Authors said that human destruction and exploitation of the natural world not only threatens food supplies but also water security for billions of people.

With climate change now at the forefront of global consciousness, it may be time to examine the real cost of development if natural habitats are threatened as a result.

If scientists are correct, jeopardising the environment for the benefit of industry is not just creating some unsightly landscape or forcing wild animals further into towns and cities – it is doing damage that stretches far into the future and beyond our generation.

That said, with current concerns over job security, employment levels and the uncertainty of Brexit on the cards, can we afford to be picky about the developments we permit? If the answer is no, are there ways to offset environmental damage or minimise it?

Whatever the answer, it is clear any proposals which have the potential to impact Scotland’s treasured natural heritage should be given extra scrutiny before a decision is made.

It may be too late to reverse what has happened in Aberdeenshire, however taking a step back may help protect the rest of our outstanding countryside from destruction.