US tycoon Donald Trump has claimed a proliferation of windfarms will ”completely end” tourism in Scotland and mean ”financial suicide”.
The businessman raised the stakes in his ongoing campaign to thwart First Minister Alex Salmond’s renewable energy ambitions in a written statement to the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee.
His fears were echoed by campaign group Friends of the Ochils, who believe the area is under threat of becoming a ”windfarm landscape” with three projects already completed and another three in the pipeline.
Mr Trump has vowed to halt the ”destruction” of the landscape caused by windfarm developments and says he will plough £15 million into the campaign.
The multi-millionaire will travel to Holyrood next week to outline his opposition to the SNP Government’s plans. In an advance statement released on Tuesday, Mr Trump said: ”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 and coastlines will forever be destroyed and Scotland will go broke.”
He said he was spurred into action after learning of plans to build turbines directly off the coast of his newly built championship golf course in Aberdeenshire.
He launched the next step in the fightback this week with an advertising campaign designed to convince Scots that wind energy will destroy the country.
The Trump organisation is encouraging protesters to join a demonstration against turbines to be held at the Scottish Parliament next Wednesday – just hours before Mr Trump gives evidence.
In his written statement Mr Trump claimed that windfarms would discourage global businesses from investing in Scotland.
”In addition to the destruction of tourism, of equal importance is how Scotland will be perceived by the global business community,” he said.
”Giving with one hand, and taking away with the other. That is not an attractive description because it speaks to the world about a lack of trustworthiness and the inability to protect an investment from ongoing Government interference.
”Simply put, we had a deal and I delivered. Do not now take away from our agreement by destroying the beauty that I invested in.”
The New York magnate also claimed other countries are ”laughing” at Scotland over its renewable energy plans.
Mr Salmond has vowed that Scotland will produce 100% of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020 and made the industry’s potential a central tenet of his argument for independence.
But Mr Trump said: ”Without public subsidies (which amount to billions wasted each year) the economics of them just don’t work. The real jobs are created in nations that manufacture the parts and actually build the turbines and not in the countries where they are ultimately constructed.
”In reality and sadly for Scotland, the real jobs are created in China, Germany and Denmark, all paid for by the taxpayer – these countries are laughing at you while their economies grow at the expense of your citizens.”
A Scottish Government spokesman responded by saying tourism in Scotland continues to grow and that the green energy sector is creating thousands of jobs.
He said: ”The evidence of strong output and employment growth in the renewables sector, and continued tourism growth in Scotland, contradicts Mr Trump’s case – tourism continues to grow, with overnight visitors to Scotland up by 9% in 2011 and the number of visitors from North America coming to enjoy Scotland’s stunning landscapes up by 15% in 2011 on the previous year.
”Scotland has massive green energy potential – including a quarter of Europe’s tidal and offshore wind potential – which is creating thousands of much-needed jobs in Scotland and guaranteeing a secure energy supply for the future.”
The spokesman also said that planning authorities and the Scottish Government only approve windfarms where ”the impacts have been found to be acceptable”, adding that ”unsuitable applications are rejected”.
He went on: ”Major overseas companies such as Mitsubishi, Gamesa, Samsung, Technip, ABB and Alstom and Hammerfest Strom see Scotland’s huge potential and are already investing heavily in the development of wind, wave and tidal technologies.”
But Stuart Dean, chairman of the Friends of the Ochils, said: ”We are not anti-renewable energy but we think the landscape is so important for Scotland that to continue to build windfarms in it is going to be quite damaging.
”That goes for the Scottish economy as well as the Scottish landscape because it does rely so much on landscape for attracting people to the country.
”It is impossible to quantify whether people are being put off at the moment but it may happen that over a period of time they will choose to go to areas where the landscape is not being damaged.”