Angered by a project on his doorstep, the US billionaire is investing £10m in a campaign against wind farms
His plans for a giant golf resort amid protected sand dunes outraged nature lovers. But now Donald Trump, the American property billionaire, is trying to set himself up as a guardian of Britain’s beauty spots by establishing a £10m fighting fund to bankroll anti-wind farm campaigners.
Trump has launched his assault on wind energy following proposals for 11 giant turbines to be built a mile off the Aberdeenshire coast. He claims they will spoil the view at his £750m complex of golf courses, hotels and holiday homes on the Balmedie estate, near Menie.
The tycoon has earmarked the cash to help groups opposed to wind developments to hire staff, fund research, organise conferences and carry out public relations stunts.
“This fight hasn’t even got off the ground,” said George Sorial, vice-president of the Trump Organisation. “We have been approached by hundreds of individuals and groups who are fighting proposals to build these ugly monstrosities on their doorsteps.
“It isn’t just about Scotland, we are prepared to do whatever is necessary to help wind farm opponents across Britain. Something needs to be done and we have the resources to do it.”;
Trump, nicknamed “The Donald”, believes that the structures, each as high as a 64-storey building, will sully the enjoyment of visitors at the 1,200-acre Trump International Golf Links resort.
Supporters of wind farms have been angered by Trump’s campaign. Gordon Edge, director of policy at RenewableUK, said: “It’s astonishing that an American multi-billionaire feels he’s entitled to circumvent the democratically decided policy of the Scottish and UK governments by supporting a shrill anti-wind minority, just because he might have to see a few wind turbines from his golf course.”;
Trump has halted the construction of his golf resort and threatened to sue Scottish ministers if they approve the turbines. Some critics of Trump have pointed out that when he announced the suspension of work last summer, he blamed the global downturn rather than wind farm plans.
The tycoon recently wrote to Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, calling the wind plan “ugly” and “disastrous and environmentally irresponsible”.
He attacked the Scottish National party over its support for wind farms and said the first minister appeared “hell-bent on destroying Scotland’s coastline and therefore Scotland itself” with the policy.
“With the reckless installation of these monsters, you will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history,” he wrote.
Trump’s intention to build “the world’s greatest golf course” is only one of his grandiose ambitions. In 2010 he raised the possibility of running for the White House. Trump, 65, who is married to Melania Knauss, a former model from Slovenia, revived the prospect late last year when he tweeted: “Thousands of emails from folks urging me to seek the . . . nomination.”;
The SNP government gave Trump the go-ahead for his golf resort in 2008, defending its decision on the basis that the project could create 6,000 jobs. The plan caused controversy from the outset, partly because the area was a site of special scientific interest, home to wading birds and other wildlife. Trump was accused of riding roughshod over planning policy and intimidating opponents.
A dispute with Michael Forbes, a part-time salmon fisherman and quarry worker who owns land next to the golf course, has echoes of the 1983 film Local Hero, in which a resident of a remote Scottish village stands up to a powerful American developer. Forbes has refused to sell up. Trump has publicly denounced him, once describing his farm as a “disgusting slum”.
Other wind farm projects that Trump has attacked include proposals for up to 150 turbines overlooking Loch Ness, near Inverness. “If you stop 90% of the people in the street in New York they would associate Scotland with Loch Ness,” Sorial said. “It is an iconic part of Scotland.”;
RenewableUK said Trump’s intervention risked damaging Britain’s ability to exploit its “world-class” wind resource and be a world leader. It said tens of thousands of jobs could be in jeopardy because Trump was “worried about golfers being put off their swing”.
There are 3,000 onshore turbines in Britain and several hundred offshore. The energy and climate change department estimates a further 6,000- 10,000 turbines are needed onshore and up to 25,000 in the sea if greenhouse gas emission targets are to be met.
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