Donald Trump has said an independent Scotland would need to protect its coastline after he failed to win support for his opposition to an “eyesore” offshore wind farm from a local planning authority.
The US billionaire claims plans for the wind farm have forced him to put the development of a £750 million golf resort on hold. He has warned he will not spend “another penny” on his resort at Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire unless plans for the 11-turbine European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay are blocked by the Scottish Government.
But yesterday Aberdeenshire council’s infrastructure services committee agreed to offer “broad support” to the renewable energy development. Its response will be sent to Marine Scotland, which will make the final recommendation on the wind farm to Scottish ministers.
In a statement Mr Trump said: “If Scotland is going to be independent, it needs to protect its greatest national treasure, the coastline. Frankly, I don’t understand how they [councillors] are even considering it.”
Councillors acknowledged the role the wind farm could play in diversifying the area’s economy away from oil and gas but questioning whether or not the site was appropriate.
Earlier John Cox, independent councillor for Banff, argued that there was no economic justification for the wind farm which he said could pose a danger to shipping in the area. He said: “In my view this site is not appropriate.”
Albert Howie, independent councillor for Central Buchan, also declared the wind farm was being sited in the wrong place and claimed much of the opposition to the scheme had come from “anti-Trump people.”
But Martin Kitt-Hayes, the Liberal Democrat councillor for Inverurie, told the meeting: “To me this is an opportunity we should be grasping with both hands. The idea that somebody teeing off could be put off by having a wind farm out at sea I find quite astonishing.”
Sarah Malone, executive vice-president of Trump International Golf Links Scotland, said she was not dismayed by the committee’s stance. She said: “They [councillors] are not supporting it – they are not really making comment on whether they support or are rejecting the application. That will be a decision for Marine Scotland.
“I’m not disappointed. We know there is widespread support for our position from the tourism industry.”
But David Rodger, a spokesman for the EOWDC project, welcomed the outcome of the meeting. He said: “The committee has decided to go with the views from the two local committees and both of those committees gave a vote of support for our project. We are clearly delighted.
“We believe the proposal has wide public and business support and we have made a strong case for the economic and environmental benefits. We look forward to hearing a decision on our planning application from Marine Scotland later this year.”
EOWDC is a £150 million venture by Swedish firm Vattenfall, Technip and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group. It will stretch from Aberdeen to an area off Blackdog, a mile and a half from Menie. Turbines will be up to 640ft high. The Trump Organisation claims the “ugly industrial park” will ruin the coastline.