,I recently wrote an article for The Orkney News on how planning was granted for the Coul Links Golf Course Development at Embo, in the North of Scotland against planning officials advice. Little did I realise that the Coul Links Twitter account would come after me.
So when I wrote my article for The Orkney News about planning being granted for the 6 million pound golf development at Coul Links in the North of Scotland, my main focus had been on the councillors who had ignored their own planning officials advice.
To my surprise I started to receive an angry backlash from local residents and supporters of the course. Some of them included;
“I urge the reporter to contact Embo Trust or Dornoch Community Association to redress the damage done by such a one sided and biased report.”
“I’m absolutely appalled by the one sided view! At least he could have spoken to the locals whom have been fighting planning approval, not a small group of incomers intent on landscape over young people, jobs and rural development and survival. This is reporting at its worst – not researched properly”
Whilst I respect their opinion, these are some of the more friendly messages I received. Note in the second comment the use of the phrase “a small group of incomers.” This phrase will be important later.
When my Twitter timeline started getting comments and feedback on the article it was pretty evenly split for and against. However what I did not expect was the official Coul Links Twitter account to personally attack me.
I had a mental breakdown and attempted suicide, it is no excuse, I upset and caused alarm and I must pay for that. The Police investigated me and classed me as “an idiot.”
Despite this a prominent campaigner attempted to further muddy my name by saying “stay away the Police have been all over him.”
Yes they were, and it actually helps my case as it shows that they saw me as no threat, would I be out on the street if they even suspected anything? I think not. My life was thoroughly checked and nothing was found.
What else have they done?
Now my article was fairly brief, not too critical and I most likely would not have addressed it again as I had covered the point of councillors failing to listen to the objectors.
However, it peeked my attention when they did this. Why? Well if they are willing to openly try to discredit an amateur journalist like myself, what have they done to other people who spoke up I against the development? Well, this is were the roller-coaster journey starts.
If you don’t agree you are wrong – The Adhominem Attack
Firstly I started with their twitter timeline, if they were happy to be so openly blatant, they probably had before. It became quickly clear that is very much the case.
As you can see they are attacking John Finnie MSP who opposes the course. OK, nothing odd here politicians are frequently challenged on their views.
The RSPB are world renowned experts in not bird conservation and ecology but, all wildlife habitats. Any information that they share should be treated as educated and informed. So for Coul Links to sat this is utterly shameful.
Shocking tactics become apparent
I soon started to receive messages from people who had opposed the development and what I started to see was a very unsettling pattern. Intimidation, veiled threats and verbal abuse from the schemes supporters.
One victim, who I will not name but my editor at The Orkney News can confirm exists, had moved to Embo from the central belt some years previously and had enjoyed becoming part of the community. This all changed when the multi million pound golf development was announced. They felt strongly about triple protected land being built on so had started a petition, nothing nasty just; do you support my opposition.
This led to shunning, verbal abuse in the street from community group members and culminated in a violent verbal attack on them inside own home, this attack led to a written apology as the abuser worked at no other than; The Planning Department of The Highland Council. Their employer had heard of the incident and forced them to apologise.
More worrying was when they were told to “bog (sic) off back to where they came from” as Embo doesn’t like “incomers.” This short sighted and bigoted comment which happened to come from an elected community councillor soes not show Embo as a place people would want to visit.
Much more to come
I now have an email inbox of not only accounts of threats, but also evidence showing intimidation tactics and veiled threats by supporters and the Coul Links Account itself.
I have not named any of the “alleged” individual abusers as I plan on writing an extremely in depth article on this over the next few days.
What you have seen above doesn’t even begin to show the depravity that has been shown to people who have a legitimate right to object.
As one twitter user said of the development: “justifying it as only 7% lost is a non argument. If I said I’m going to cut off only 7% of your body mass would you be so content?”
This is a unique habitat that is meant to be protected from harm. 7% will be lost after construction but how much will be lost during it? Diggers and trucks are not animal friendly.
I can only hope that the Scottish Government “call in” the Coul Links development for a public enquiry. They like to talk of their strong stance on the environment, now is the time to show it.
Look out here and on The Orkney News for more on this story. Help support grassroots journalism.