Donald Trump has warned that he will reconsider his plans for a £700 million resort around his north-east golf course if a huge offshore windfarm is built nearby.
The US businessman is furious over Vattenfall’s proposals to build 11 turbines off the coast of Aberdeen and last night he drew the battle lines by officially lodging his objection with Marine Scotland.
He has also asked First Minister Alex Salmond to intervene, saying it would make other international developers think twice about investing in Scotland.
The structures, which would make up the £150million European Offshore Wind Development Centre (EOWDC), would measure up to 640ft high – twice the height of Big Ben.
Last night the billionaire said that the rest of his resort – a luxury £250 million hotel, 950 holiday homes and 500 houses – would be “at risk” if the government backs the green energy scheme.
Work on the championship links at the Menie Estate will be completed within weeks and the course, which Mr Trump believes will be the best in the world, will open in July, 2012.
But when the turbine plans were lodged with Marine Scotland last month, it emerged that they would be erected one-and-a-half miles from the coast between Balmedie and Bridge of Don, and visible from the Trump site. Mr Trump’s objection states: “The reality is that this windfarm will significantly impact on our resort to the extent that the remaining parts will be at risk.”
It adds: “There is no way that any international hotel operator will commit to developing a world-class hotel overlooking what will be an offshore industrial facility.”
In 2006, when he first unveiled his resort plans, he insisted that he would walk away if the windfarm was built. He claims he was given assurances that nobody would be able to see the turbines from his course, and since then he has invested £60 million.
The Trump Organisation has vowed to use any available legal means to make sure the windfarm project does not go ahead.
George Sorial, managing director and assistant general counsel at the Trump Organisation, said the message in the objection is clear.
“Mr Trump stated very clearly five years ago that if there was to be a wind turbine project nearby, he would develop elsewhere,” he said. “That position has not changed.”
He added: “Should the Scottish Government approve this proposal, then we would obviously take a hard look at the rest of our project.
“However, we honestly believe that any rational body that was balanced and fair would not approve this project.”
Building work on the windfarm – a partnership between Vattenfall, Technip, and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (Areg) – could start as early as 2013.
In his letter to the first minister, Mr Trump says the turbines would be “disastrous and environmentally irresponsible”.
“Unfortunately, instead of celebrating the start of something valuable and beautiful for Scotland, this ugly cloud is hanging over the future of the great Scottish coastline.”
Mr Trump, who issued a statement criticising the development when the planning application was lodged last month, said he had been “repeatedly promised” that windfarms would not be “destroying and distorting magnificent Aberdeen’s coastline”.
He said: “Despite repeated assurances from Vattenfall and others that the turbines would not be visible from my site, the current application indicates otherwise.”
He went on: “In short, this windfarm should not be built, or alternatively, be relocated. If not, you should ask yourself if any other international developer would ever risk investing in Scotland after my experience and all the promises that were made to me.
“Would you put awindfarm opposite St Andrews? I don’t think so.”
Last night a spokesman for the Scottish Government said it had no knowledge of any assurances given to Mr Trump.
“Mr Trump’s letter refers to the position five years ago, when he was submitting his Menie planning application in 2006 – before the current administration took office – and therefore we have no knowledge of what was said then,” he said.
“What this administration can say is that the Menie application was determined properly, according to Scotland’s planning law and procedures, and it will be exactly the same for this development proposal.
“Ministers will assess every planning application on its merits, taking into account the views of consultees, interested parties and the public.”
David Rodger, project spokesman for EOWDC, said: “We understand that the Trump Organisation has made an objection to the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre and like all other comments we have received regarding the proposal we will look at this carefully.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding