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Fears for badgers over extending golf course

12 December 2003 - The Herald

By Raymond Duncan

A Hotel and country club's plans to extend its championship golf course face opposition because they could impact on one of Scotland's largest and most popular mammals.

The Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, whose guests have included Robbie Williams, the singer, wants to build two new golf holes to increase the length of its East Course, which has hosted major events such as the Solheim Cup.

The hotel and country club opened in 1990 and has two courses designed by James Braid in 1927 and 1935. It wants to fell trees and clear shrubbery in the Muir o' Dean woodland. Changes to six holes on the course are also planned.

The plans, however, have upset badger lovers who fear the destruction of woodland will disturb several setts.

Alan Anderson, of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said last night the heating-up of the economy was leading to developers seeking more and more sites for commercial returns.

He added: "Badgers are one species that has the potential to be squeezed out. The pressures on the countryside are intense.

The Edinburgh and Lothians Badger Group said the Muir o' Dean provided the main woodland foraging for badgers there and it would be a great loss if it was reduced in size to allow the golf course extension.

Midlothian Council advised that setts should be left undisturbed and protected during and after development, while Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Scotland said any consent should be conditional on the production and implementation of a detailed woodland management plan.

Alan Henderson, Edinburgh's head of planning and strategy, said the hotel had shown the woodland's preservation could be achieved by its plan, and recommended councillors approve the application subject to the management plan.

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