SNH accused of costing Jura jobs

The financier known as the Wizard of Oz, Greg Coffey, is understood to have decided not to go ahead with his £20 million golf course on the Ardfin Estate he owns on the Isle of Jura, due to obstruction from SNH.

The golf course would have brought at least 5 full time jobs to this beautiful isolated island – and would have added to the golfing portfolio offered by the twin isles of Islay and Jura, with a few minutes of ferry ride between them.

It would have enabled unused agricultural land to be managed with a return to a more natural habitat. Instead the land will continue to deteriorate and will be colonised with bracken, the sign of neglect.

While the question if his closure to the public of the lovely Jura House gardens is a sore one with an economic impact on the island, Mr Coffey is investing an enormous amount into Jura which will have considerable economic benefit for the community.

It is difficult to understand why SNH are taking their stance without local consultation on the economic future of the island. This is locally thought to be especially odd when such a development would improve the landscape of the island.

Dhuirachs have noted that some years ago SNH published a report suggesting housing in the same area.

It is a moot point of the classical ‘chicken and egg’ variety as to whether the ability to live in a place or reasons for doing so should first be facilitated.

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20 Responses to SNH accused of costing Jura jobs

  1. The golf course seemed like a good scheme to me, but it’s a cheek claiming that it ‘would have enabled unused agricultural land to be managed with a return to a more natural habitat. Instead the land will continue to deteriorate and will be colonised with bracken, the sign of neglect.’
    The land is only unused because Mr Coffey closed the farm and sold off the livestock. If he hadn’t done that, the land would still be in good and productive use.

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    • Well said Islophile. A family of six had to leave Jura because of Mr Coffey’s actions. And you’ve said it yourself newsroom – he closed the gardens.
      If you think golf courses improve the landscape, maybe you should take a look at the Menie estate…

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  2. Can’t get planning permission for a golf course on an SSSI site??

    No problems. Just tell him to get in touch with Alex ‘We’re open for business’ Salmond. He’ll ride roughshod over SNH and any other local planning jobsworth – just as he did for Mr Combover himself Donald Trump and yon golf course of his up in Aberdeenshire.

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  3. Stop selling of our land,Have you not learned the lesson of Donald Trump’s rape of the Menie estate? You’re reputation is dipping below that of David Cameron in Scotland. Get a grip man, we have pride.

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  4. Newsroom, instead of just saying that Mr Coffey “is understood to have decided not to go ahead with his £20 million golf course on the Ardfin Estate he owns on the Isle of Jura, due to obstruction from SNH” could you please give us a link to what you have “understood”, i.e. where this information has come from? If you look up the list of SSSIs on Jura (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_SSSIs_in_Islay_and_Jura), the only one that seems to be on Coffey’s estate is “Craighouse Ravine” which is (a) steep and deep and heavily wooded and so not suitable for a golf course, and (b) nowhere near the area along the south coast where the course is apparently proposed, so why are you saying that SNH is objecting to development of what you describe as “unused agricultural land” and also why you think a golf course is “a more natural habitat”? Please elucidate.

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    • SNH are not only concerned with SSSIs. The whole of the south of Jura, including the Ardfin Estate, is part of a National Scenic Area, and those are also SNH business.

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  5. In response to Alison I’d like to comment that it’s not exactly true that a family had to leave the island due to Mr Coffeys actions. How could it be that the person working for him left yet two more people have been employed since then if there was no work?
    Why is it that everything he does is so negatively thought of? At the end of the day he bought the estate it’s his to do with as he pleases. Im sure that most folk buying a house don’t expect the entire neighbour hood to be up in arms about every little change that they make to the place!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      • Mr Coffey closed the farm down to the fact that the farmer said they couldn’t make it pay for itself! He didn’t put him out of a job though, it was the farmers choice to leave.

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  6. Don’t think the golf course would have been easily built and taken a lot of years to mature as the soil is very poor. Easy get out clause in my opinion is to blame SNH.

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  7. The prospect of this “…beautiful isolated island…” being incorporated into a “…golfing portfolio…” is abhorrant and ridiculous. Shurely shum mishtake and only averted by a ‘vigilant’ SNH?!

    Surely others appreciate the abject crassness in the very idea of such a play facility on Jura. Investment for jobs and the “Community” — naive or disingenuous?

    How about, just for once, moving quickly away, DO NOTHING and let benign ‘nature’ just get on with it — Mother knows best. A transatlantic-type Trump crazy golf course can be established anywhere ‘overnight’ with impunity and eschews “natural habitat” — they’ll be on the Moon or Mars soon. Just you wait ‘n’ see.

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  8. In response to most of the comments against.

    Unless you actually live on the island of Jura, you cannot appreciate the fine balance between the natural beauty and maintaining/growing the islands economy. Mother nature will not continue to offer new employment opportunities or attract new families to the island.

    We are an island of 200 people and almost all are fully supportive of a project that will grow our economy and bring jobs to the island.

    The fact is that a golf course, on unused land, will bring between 5 and 6 new jobs to an island, which is classified as having a fragile economy.

    This is a private investment on a scale that Jura may never see again. There are no bullying tactics like Donald Trump has used and no one is being thrown out of their houses to build a golf course.

    The golf course is not a SSSI site. The course itself will hardly be visible from either the road or by boat.

    The workforce on the estate has increased since it has been taken over.

    This golf course should go ahead and should be supported by the local councils and MSP’s.

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    • The core issue here is, as you say, one of the urgent development of the island economy – which this private sector initiative would certainly support in a variety of ways.

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    • How can it not be visible from the road when you drive alongside the proposed course? How many of an increase above the number employed by previous owner?

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  9. Greg Coffey has made a fortune trading commodities. He has never been creative enough to invent a product or innovate a new industry. He just knows when to buy low and sell high. Whatever. Greg will have done his homework – as a trader he will have checked the market there’s too many Scottish courses with not enough golfers to generate a good rate of return and jings will you just check the weather stats for this year, wet or what.
    I hope it won’t be – for sale – disposal of surplus commodity – estate with planned golf course – or potential for stunning gardens and rough grazing. Surely he must have an estate development plan – struth he’s one bright fella with a lot of dosh. I hope he stays the course, better a very very private golf course than an industrial wind farm or random caravan site that blight other nearby islands, hills and loch sides. A yes, a tough choice to make, there’s nothing more the island needs than men in acid bright florescent Pringle cluttering up the landscape, putting up the wildlife and spooking the deer.

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  10. Yes, indeedie and what better commodity than a country pimpingly promoted as wide “… open for business”.

    Why stay there, or “invest if it’s only ‘economically’ sustainable by importing and imposing moronic activities that already blight the mainland. There are some things it’d be better we [ScotsMEN] hadn’t come up with. It is conceded, however, that the facilties for this activity at least will rapidly revert to type.

    Apparently long range weather forecasts envisage a resurgence in genuine, traditional, sort of outdoorsie-[brrrrrr...]-curling and that Scandinavian-style ice yachting will become a popular pastime [nae transport].

    In the current climate [apologies] allegedly, transatlantic tourism [or any other non carbon-neutral done-that activity] is not really environmentally sustainable or morally defensible. Best chill out or vacate where you are then and perhaps others will have the opportunity to occupy themselves there with more imaginative and intellegent pursuits.

    Wishing y’all a hot, hot, dry and sunny New Year.

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  11. Just a couple of factual observations. Ardfin Estate is owned by Ardfin Lodge Ltd registered in Jersey. http://www.whoownsscotland.org.uk/property.php?p=3104
    The new golf course at Machrihanish was constructed 100% within an SSSI with SNH full co-operation. If that is possible I would doubt that there are grounds for SNH blocking this although because the report provides no further information it is hard to know what is going on.

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  12. Andy, this article is yet another pile of poo from Newsie.

    There was a follow-up article the next day
    http://forargyll.com/2012/12/snh-show-they-have-been-blamed-unfairly-over-ardfin-golf-course/

    The most interesting response to this particular article were the questions levelled at Newsie asking for her source for this ridiculous story in the first place – see questions by Islophile and Alex McKay.

    There was no response from Newsie of course. I’m mean if she can’t be gracious enough to apologise she’s hardly likely to reveal her sources (from inside her head is my guess…..)

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