Donald Trump has warned MSPs that Alex Salmond’s plans for a rapid expansion in wind energy will destroy Scotland’s countryside forever and kill off the tourism industry.
The US tycoon warned the SNP administration is committing “financial suicide” by investing so heavily in an expensive form of power reliant on large public subsidies that creates jobs in other countries where the turbines are built.
Citing his experience in the tourism industry, he said Scotland visitors do not want to see “industrial monstrosities” erected on the countryside and coastline. “They will hate it and go elsewhere,” he concluded.
The billionaire said the First Minister is intent on “ramming these proposals” through the planning system without listening to local people and, in retrospect, he would never have proceeded with his controversial golf resort in Aberdeenshire.
Mr Trump made the outspoken attack in a submission to a Holyrood inquiry examining the SNP’s ambitious green energy targets, ahead of a personal appearance next week.
An anti-turbine campaign group is planning a march on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile next week to coincide with the tycoon giving evidence to Holyrood’s economy, energy and tourism committee.
He told MSPs he was initially drawn into the controversy by plans to build a wind farm off the coast of his £750 million resort, but he came to realise the “wider picture was more important than my individual concerns”.
“Tragically, the Scottish taxpayer no longer has a voice in this destructive process because the First Minister and his government are ramming these proposals through the planning system at lightning speed,” his submission said, before turning to the damage to tourism.
“Do not decimate a steadfast sector of your economy with a gamble on technology that is unreliable and is largely driven by public subsidies, political rhetoric and promises of ‘independence’. Your pristine countryside will forever be destroyed and Scotland will go broke.”
Mr Salmond wants to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020, a target that council planning chiefs have warned could mean the countryside being transformed into a “wind farm landscape”.
Mr Trump claimed to have received thousands of letters from people whose homes have been “ruined” by nearby turbines but are outraged than SNP ministers are refusing to listen to them.
He said it is “self- evident” how tourists will react to a plethora of wind farms – “they will hate it and go elsewhere.”
Ireland and other countries are “thrilled” at Scotland’s decision to commit “financial suicide” by pressing ahead with the plans,” the tycoon claimed.
Mr Trump warned that the damage to the tourism industry cannot be undone later as Scotland will be left with a “tarnished asset (that) is impossible to replace”.
He said the proposal for a wind farm off the coast of his own resort is akin to building a “brutal 1960-style block of apartments in Princes Street Gardens or on Arthur’s Seat” in Edinburgh.
Neither do wind farms make economic sense, he said, as the “real jobs” are created in countries such as China and Germany where the turbines are manufactured.
The Scottish Executive said strong growth in the renewables and tourism industries showed Mr Trump’s accusations were untrue. A spokesman said wind farms are only permitted “where the impacts are found to be acceptable.”
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