Skip to main content

28 June, 2019

Dunes at Menie golf course may lose protected status

Dunes at Menie golf course may lose protected status: Foveran Links - Before and After aerial view inc SSSI

The dunes on the Trump International Golf Course on Menie Estate may lose their status as a nationally important protected wildlife site, after consideration of the scientific evidence by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Today marks the beginning of a three-month formal consultation on the future status of Foveran Links Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The dunes at Menie form part of this SSSI. Construction of the golf course has affected protected sand dunes severely, according to a report published today by SNH. 

Sally Thomas, SNH’s Director of People & Nature, said:

“The denotification of SSSIs is unusual, however in this case we have found there is no longer a reason to protect the dunes at Menie as they do not include enough of the special, natural features for which they were designated. 

“We work with developers across Scotland to ensure habitats and wildlife are protected when development work is undertaken. Most of the time, development can take place without damaging important natural features, but this was not the case in this instance.”

The Menie section of the Foveran SSSI comprised a range of special habitats, of which approximately one-third have been damaged. The remainder of the habitats in the Menie area have been significantly fragmented, and ecological processes disrupted. A total dune habitat of 154 ha was designated as part of the Foveran SSSI. The combined loss and damage at Menie represents 15% of this dune habitat.

Foveran Links SSSI was a very high quality example of a sand dune system characteristic of north east Scotland, and was of exceptional importance for the wide variety of coastal landforms and processes. The site’s notified features included its dune habitats, especially the dune slacks and pasture, and the geomorphological interest of its sand dune system, due especially to its dynamic nature. 

Subject to the outcome of a formal consultation beginning today and lasting three months, the remaining SSSI  at Foveran Links will be merged with the adjacent Sands of Forvie and Ythan Estuary SSSI.

To see the Reasons for the Proposed Partial De-Notification of Foveran Links report, go to: (Link live from 0900hrs, Friday 28th June)

Contact information

Cat Synnot

Notes to editors

 SNH’s Director of People and Nature, Sally Thomas, is available for media interview at SNH's Edinburgh office today, Friday 28th June. To request an interview, contact Cat Synnot: tel.  07770 957334/

Hero image shows a comparison of aerial imagery in 2005 and 2013 showing the impact of the golf course. The loss of the 700m long Menie sand sheet and the smaller 300m long Sandend burn sand sheet is clearly visible. Broader medium-scale changes are also clear due to the new golf course and infrastructure.  The Foveran Links SSSI boundary is shown in red.

This is part of an established process under the Nature Conservation (Scotland ) Act 2004, which enables SNH  to review SSSI boundaries and make necessary amendments to site boundaries. One, further site, Correen Hills SSSI, north of Alford, is advertised on the public notice as being de-notified, in addition to the dunes at Menie golf course. Correen Hills was notified for its colonial nesting common gulls. The colony disappeared and breeding ceased in the early 2000s. Complete denotification of the site is proposed. It is unlikely that recolonisation by common gulls will take place, although it is unknown why the nesting location was abandoned.

 Scotland has a network of more than 1500 nationally and internationally important protected nature sites across the country. SNH works to ensure the scientific credibility of Scotland’s suite of SSSIs is protected.

 Scottish Natural Heritage is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at SNH media is also on Twitter at 

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. We work to ensure that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

'S e Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Tha sinn ag obair airson ar n-àrainneachd nàdarra ann an Alba a thoirt am feabhas agus a h-uile duine a bhrosnachadh gus barrachd cùraim a ghabhail dhi. Gus am bi an nàdar air fad ann an Alba – ar prìomh àrainnean is chruthan-tìre, ar n-àiteachan uaine gu lèir is ar gnèithean dùthchasach - air an gleidheadh, air an leasachadh 's a' toirt bhuannachdan dhuinn. 'S e an dleastanas a th' oirnn uile co-chothrom ann an stiùireadh faiceallach ar saoghail nàdarra a ruighinn airson bith-iomadachd a ghleidheadh 's a leasachadh. Airson an tuilleadh fios, tadhail air an làraich-lìn againn aig no lean air Twitter sinn aig


Foveran Links - Before and After aerial view inc SSSI

Foveran Links - Before and After aerial view inc SSSI

View | Download