Saturday, March 16, 2013



PLANS to create a golf course on the Hebridean isle of Jura for a millionaire estate owner have been bunkered.
Australian financier Greg Coffey announced his intention to build the 18-hole course for his own private enjoyment after buying the Ardfin Estate in autumn 2012.
Plans were due to have been lodged with Argyll and Bute council in January after world-renowned golf architect Bob Harrison visited the island and mapped out his proposals with locals.
 But it has been confirmed the golf course is now on hold.
John Potts, chairman of the Jura Development Trust, said the loss of the predicted four or five full-time positions to be created by the golf course was of regret.
He said: "Quite a lot of people were fairly neutral, but for a few people there is a wilderness element to Jura and the headline (of a golf course) doesn't fit with that, no matter how well it's landscaped.
"It would have provided some employment and we never really want to turn that away – we can't afford to, so that is a loss."
The course was due to become part of the 14,000-acre Ardfin Estate, with Mr Harrison, who specialises in courses in Australasia and Asia, describing the site as the "most beautiful I have ever seen in my time in golf".
Announcing his plans last summer, Mr Harrison said: "Nothing I've seen anywhere in the world competes with the sheer beauty of the Jura site.
"I love Scotland in general and, by a pleasant coincidence, had been a devoted fan of the Machrie Golf Course on nearby Islay for many years. Jura has become my favourite place on earth."
The Ardfin course was to be routed in two loops with spectacular sea views and an emphasis on a design that would cause minimal disturbance to the coastal landscape. Mr Harrison had aimed to preserve the burns and large areas of particularly sensitive land, such as wetlands.
The aim was to create holes as memorable as the 14th at St Andrews and the 13th at North Berwick.
Willie MacDonald, estate manager at Ardfin, said the early informal plans had been lodged with Argyll and Bute Council, but no official proposal had been made. He added: "There is no reason why a course couldn't go ahead."
Given the estate sits in a national scenic area, Scottish Natural Heritage has been briefed on the original proposals by Mr Harrison.
A spokesman for Scottish Natural Heritage said: "We made it clear to the estate at the outset we didn't see any problem with their proposals. In fact, we were impressed with some of the work they have done to ensure the golf course respects the special qualities of the national scenicarea. 
"We've offered to meet the estate again to discuss the proposals, and any issues they may have, but they haven't got back to us."
The Herald was unable to reach Mr Harrison.



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