A decision on whether the dunes at Donald Trump’s golf course in the north-east lose their protected status will not be made until next year.
Claims were made earlier this year in a report by Scottish National Heritage (SNH) that a third of the special habitats had been damaged.
The site is considered a nationally important protected wildlife site.
It has received seven responses and will now move to the next stage.
SNH previously said it was taking the “unusual” move because there was “no longer a reason to protect the dunes at Menie”.
In the document it said Menie Links Golf Course had “adversely affected” the sand dune habitat with 11% of the total SSSI lost and 15% of the sand dune habitat gone.
It added that 34% of semi- natural habitats in the Menie section of the SSSI had been “destroyed or severely modified”.
However, the Trump Organisation had branded the consultation a “stitch up”.
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A spokeswoman for SNH said: “To de-notify a protected area, there are two stages.
“The first stage is for SNH to propose that the land is denotified, and to start a consultation process by inviting comments and representations from the interested parties (the land managers, local authority, community councils) and anyone else who wants to say something. These must then be considered by SNH.
“The second stage includes our decision and notifying the relevant people. We have up to 18 months from the date that we started the consultation to make a decision, which allows us time to seek further advice or carry out more investigation work in response to any representations we have received.”
The remaining area of SSSI at Foveran Links could be merged with the nearby Sands of Forvie and Ythan Estuary.
Sarah Malone, executive vice-president of Trump International, said: “We intend to challenge SNH’s approach and have requested that the de-notification process in this case is scrutinised by SNH’s Protected Areas Committee and Scientific Advisory Committee to provide some scientific rigour, independence and impartiality which has been fundamentally lacking during this shambles of a review process.
“It is a matter of fact that the Foveran Links SSSI was in poor condition when we purchased the land.
“The site had been allowed to significantly degrade over many years without any oversight or intervention from SNH.
“To be clear, they have never undertaken any work on the site, before or after we acquired it.
“Very few, if any, landowners invest in, and understand, the ecological and environmental properties of an SSSI like we do.”