Alex Salmond and I have something in common at last. We’ve both felt the sharpness of Donald Trump’s tongue.
My lambasting came years before Trump first set foot in Scotland after I’d made a film about him that he didn’t like. Donald has a history of not liking films about him, as Brechin-based director Anthony Baxter is discovering with his award-winning You’ve Been Trumped.
The First Minister on the other hand used to be Trump’s best Scottish buddy. But that was before it dawned on the Trumpster that Wee Eck’s master plan to turn Scotland into the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy, included 11 wind turbines positioned less than a mile offshore from the Aberdeenshire golfing mecca the SNP Government helped him develop.
In a bitter message from Trump Tower Donald stormed that the First Minister’s concentration on wind energy would “single-handedly do more damage to Scotland than any event in the nation’s history”. Last week in a follow-up blast he vowed to help Scotland save itself from “the madness of wind turbines” and pledged to make a personal appearance before a Scottish Parliament inquiry into green energy.
What chance of Wee Eck inviting him round to Bute House for tea and Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers afterwards?
For once I find myself on the same side as the tempestuous tycoon. Renewables are going to play a major part in Scotland’s future energy mix. We’re uniquely blessed with wave, tidal and further hydro power opportunities. Biomass and, in certain places, wind will also make a valuable contribution.
But last week an Edinburgh University report gave a sobering update on just how much the obsession with wind power is costing us all. Professor Gordon Hughes’ study reveals that a wind turbine generating £150,000 worth of electricity a year actually costs consumers £250,000 in subsidies.
By 2020 Alex Salmond’s plan to make the nation self-sufficient in wind-produced electricity will have cost every family in Scotland £5000. That’s 10 times more than the same amount of energy produced from efficient gas-powered stations, with only minimal savings in CO2 emissions.
What this means is that ordinary families are being forced to make a choice between eating and heating while their spiralling electricity bills are subsidising wind farms. Incredibly, a dozen landowners who allow turbines on their land are to share a staggering £850m subsidy windfall.
This Jubilee year we should remember how important Scotland’s biggest business, tourism, actually is. More than 50% of those planning to holiday in the UK are considering destinations north of the border. What is it they’re coming to enjoy?
Certainly not the weather. Or forests of windfarms. Scotland’s priceless asset, surely, is its glorious unspoilt scenery. If not, why are we wasting all that money on TV ads?
Some people apparently find wind turbines aesthetically pleasing. But for those who want to escape the urban sprawl, Scotland’s great vistas of pristine land and seascape are the real attraction. And the world-class links golf courses.
As a St Andrews native I want the many thousands who annually play the most famous links in the world to enjoy the unique experience of golfers over the centuries, including the views, and to pay handsomely for the privilege.
But there are alarming proposals for two separate offshore windfarms in the Tay estuary within 15 km of the Old Course itself. That’s on top of a rash of applications for onshore wind turbines looming over the picturesque East Neuk fishing villages and the town of St Andrews.
Is Trump just a NIMBY blowhard when he says Scots would be mad to destroy our greatest international tourist assets for the false gods of wind energy?
Or, especially in the light of last week’s shocking figures on the real cost of green electricity, has the Donald got it right twice over this time?
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