Top golf club accused of destroying protected beauty spot

The Archerfield Golf Club borders stunning Yellowcraigs beach (Picture by Richard Webb)

ONE of Scotland’s most prestigious golf clubs has been accused of wrecking a half-mile strip of sand dunes near one of the country’s most beautiful beaches.

Archerfield Golf Club, which boasts Alan Shearer and Ryan Giggs among its members, is alleged to have ripped up shrubs which help hold the dunes together.

The East Lothian course, which reportedly charges a £35,000 joining fee, is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and borders picturesque Yellowcraig Beach.

Walkers were horrified to discover a lengthy stretch of sea buckthorn had been torn up, apparently by a bulldozer as part of the club’s landscaping plans.

The local council say the removal of the shrubs, which sport bright orange berries in the autumn, has already resulted in sand being blasted away by strong coastal winds.

They have accused the club of breaking an agreement over landscaping work and ordered them to replace the shrubs.

Local resident Graham Black claimed the bulldozers were brought in last month and was horrified to discover the plants had been torn up.

He said: “All of it’s been ripped out with heavy duty equipment.

“The damage has been done and it will be irreparable for 50 to 100 years.

I walk along there quite a lot, I’ve seen what it was like before and what it’s like now.

“It’s absolutely appalling. Too many people take the bull by the horns, do things and try to follow up afterwards.”

The golf course, which cost £55m to build, agreed a “management plan” with East Lothian Council and Scottish National Heritage (SNH).

The spokeswoman for the council said: “We were made aware of the removal of the sea buckthorn by a member of the public and one of the countryside rangers, who spotted its removal.

“As this is an SSSI, a management plan has previously been agreed with the golf club and SNH for seasonal maintenance of the sea buckthorn.

“However, the golf club has gone above and beyond what was required.

“The council had a meeting with SNH and the golf club and we have agreed a plan of action to restore the sea buckthorn, which will be the club’s responsibility to carry out.

“At this particular site the biggest impact from the removal of the buckthorn has been the erosion of the sand there as quite a bit has blown away.

“We do not believe there has been any negative impact on wildlife in the area.”

Marram Grass and hawthorn are also to be planted on the now bare sands, and it is hoped the foliage will be restored by next spring.

No one at Archerfield Golf Club was available for comment.