Scores of objectors have mounted a campaign against plans for nearly 40 homes at a Moray beach.
Developer Duneland wants to build 38 homes as well a three craft studios on land at North Whins, near the Findhorn Foundation.
But objectors feel the development will destroy sand dune and gorse.
The proposals are the latest phase of a masterplan comprising 75 homes, but prompted a furious reaction from some locals who have scrawled “no more” on signs across the area in response.
A total of 61 objections have been submitted to Moray Council, with fears ranging from the impact the population increase could have on the dunes to concerns about the pressures on nearby roads and worries for rare birds who nest on the land.
However, those behind the project, which has also attracted about a dozen letters of support, say that designs have been drawn up to enhance the natural environment while stressing the plans are within Findhorn’s defined boundary.
Daphne Francis, who used to stay on the Findhorn Foundation but now lives in Burghead, believes existing access roads to the site through the Foundation will find it impossible to cope with extra traffic.
She said: “It’s already very busy at time and there is no pavement at all through there, which means you get people just walking up it a lot of the time.
“There are also about 15 species of bird that nest in the dunes including three of them that are on the red list for being in danger. We shouldn’t be moving their nesting sites just to make way for more homes.”
Surveys done by the developer have established that it is likely affected nesting birds would relocate to other nearby gorse if the homes are built.
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When initial plans were lodged with Moray Council in November last year, Forres councillor Claire Feaver reported “quite a lot of discord” within the Findhorn Foundation about the possibility of expansion into the dunes – but stressed not everyone was opposed to it.
Ecological assessments commissioned by Duneland have determined that there will be multiple benefits for the environment from the plans while there will be “no significant adverse impact” overall.
Planning consultant Greg Paul said the plans have been drawn up following local feedback and to comply with Scottish Government policies on sustainable and ecological development.
He said: “It is important that we clarify though that the philosophy behind the project is not to simply ask how we can limit the environmental impact of the development, but rather how the development can serve to enhance the natural environment.
“Co-creation with nature is a principle upon which this community has been built, and one which the Company takes very seriously.
“It is from this intention that the development provides for the creation of new high-value acid grass and dune heath habitats.”
Moray Council’s transport department has not objected to the development but has recommended conditions to improve pedestrian and cycling access to the site.
Findhorn and Kinloss Community Council has objected due to traffic and environmental concerns, and questioned how much need there is for housing in the “exclusive” location.
In a letter, chairwoman Anne Skene said: “The size of the proposed development is very large and the natural boundary of the Findhorn Foundation park is being lost.
“It is now starting to sprawl out into the dunes area and encroach on a site of significant scientific interest in terms of flora and fauna.”