EDINBURGH, Scotland – The feel-good era between New York property tycoon Donald Trump and Scotland’s political leaders seems to have come to a dramatic end.
Trump has launched a blistering attack on Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond over plans to build a “horrendous” wind farm off the coast of his luxury Scottish golf resort. In an open letter, Trump accuses Salmond of being “hell bent on destroying Scotland’s coast line and therefore Scotland itself.”
The bitter words are a far cry from the love-in the two men enjoyed four years ago when Salmond backed Trump’s 750 million pound (US$1.2 billion) golf development 12 miles (16km) north of Aberdeen despite protests from environmentalists and locals about damage to rare sand dunes.
Back then, Trump invited Salmond to join him and actor Sean Connery to be the first to tee off on what the businessman described as “the world’s greatest golf course.” Trump also heaped praise on Salmond’s government after it overruled local lawmakers who rejected the planned golf resort.
The Scottish leader backed the golf course by claiming it would create hundreds of tourism jobs around the Aberdeenshire area.
Locals and environmentalists campaigned in vain to save the sand dunes which were home to numerous species of wading birds and wildlife, but the dunes were bulldozed to make way for the fairways in 2009 and 2010. The course is due to open in July.
Salmond’s support for the wind farm is consistent with the Scottish government’s plan to position itself as a leader in the provision and technology of renewable energy. The wind farm’s turbines will be visible from the beach and the golf course.
Salmond has refused to comment on Trump’s letter, but Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, which represents the wind farm industry, reacted with anger to the intervention.
“Who is Donald Trump to tell Scotland what is good for our economy or environment?” Stuart said in a statement. “He completely over-blows the impact of the proposed wind farm and to be honest there are so many mistakes in this ‘trumped up’ nonsense that it’s difficult to know where to begin.”
Trump tells Salmond in the ill-tempered letter: “With the reckless installation of these monsters, you will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than any event in Scottish history!”
He adds: “I will never be ‘on board,’ as you have stated I would be, with this insanity.”
The tycoon warns Salmond that he will be using his wealth to fight his government’s renewables policy.
“I have just authorized my staff to allocate a substantial amount of money to launch an international campaign to fight your plan to surround Scotland’s coast with many thousands of wind turbines – it will be like looking through the bars of a prison and Scottish citizens will be like prisoners!”
He ridicules the Scottish National Party’s renewable energy policies, claiming the economic benefit is going to China and other countries, not Scotland.
“Jobs will not be created in Scotland because these ugly monstrosities known as turbines are manufactured in other countries such as China. These countries, who so benefit from your billions of pounds of payments, are laughing at you!” Trump said.
Trump concludes the attack by referring to his mother, who was raised in Scotland.
He adds: “I’m doing this to save Scotland and honor my mother…”