A super rich Ozzie financier has announced plans to build a golf course on one of Scotland’s most famous Whisky producing islands.
Greg Coffey, a 41-year-old Australian hedge fund manager, has bought Ardfin Estate on the small Hebridean Isle of Jura for £3.5m.
He has drawn up the ambitious plans to build an 18-hole championship golf course which is being billed as one of the finest in Scotland.
Greg has plenty in his coffers
Mr. Coffey, whose wealth is valued at around half a billion pounds, is the latest wealthy overseas investor to buy land in Scotland with a view to cashing on its lucrative golf tourism industry and status as “The Home of Golf.”
His development follows the opening of Trump Golf International, by U.S business tycoon Donald Trump, at Menie in Aberdeenshire earlier this year.
There was widespread local opposition to Trump’s development of a links golf course in a site of special scientific interest and ecological importance.
It resulted in the production of a movie, “You’ve been Trumped,” by former BBC journalist Anthony Baxter, telling the “inside story” on Trump’s treatment of local farmers and residents who objected to his plans.
The film, which portrays Trump as a grasping bully, has been shown at international film festivals around the world and won a number of awards for its investigative journalism.
The locals on Jura seem far more supportive of this new plan, which includes encouraging shooting parties, growing the island’s tourism industry and bringing substantial economic benefits to the small island community.
The Herald Scotland reported that Mr. Coffey has plans to renovate the dilapidated farm steading and other properties in need of attention on the 14,000-acre estate.
Biggest thing since Whisky works
Estate manager Willie MacDonald was quoted in the paper saying the development of Ardfin as the most significant since Jura’s distillery opened in 1963.
Two employees have been hired recently and seven further full time jobs are expected to be created shortly.
Mr MacDonald, who has worked on the estate for 34 years and is also chairman of the island community council, said: “I have seen the estate go through different phases but this type of investment goes way beyond anything I’ve ever seen
“It is more than just the golf course, it will have a big impact on Jura form the point of employment. It is incredible that someone could contemplate this type of investment in the island.”
The course would be built on the site of Ardfin Farm, which is no longer in agricultural use, but there are no new buildings outlined in the golf course plan.
Mr. Coffey’s team has consulted with environmental groups, including Scottish Natural Heritage, and has begun a three-month consultation period before submitting a planning application.
Jura Community Council treasurer Alex Dunnachie told The Herald: “I think this estate owner could be one of the best things to happen to the island, if he is left alone to do what he wants to do.
“It is his land and he is spending money on it and that will improve infrastructure and employment on Jura.
“We were shown the plans at the service point and I didn’t hear one negative comment.”
Closure of Jura tourist attraction
Mr. Coffey did anger locals when he closed down the Jura House walled gardens, a long standing and popular visitor attraction, but any opposition has died away given the prospect of a revitalised tourism industry for the Whisky island.
Read the Isle of Jura blog for one locals take on the development.