The posturing of Trump and Salmond hides the more important events on the streets
The trouble with the current controversy concerning wind power, due to reach a crescendo tomorrow, is that it’s becoming less about Scotland’s future energy needs and more about the egos of two men who are not known for ever admitting to self-doubt.
Tomorrow will see both a march on Holyrood by native Scots who don’t want to see their countryside covered with wind turbines and a one-man assault on one of the parliament’s committees by an American billionaire, who’s proud of his Scottish antecedents and who doesn’t want the outlook from his new golf course spoiled by an offshore wind farm.
The object of both of their ire is First Minister Alex Salmond who insists that wind power, of both the on and offshore variety, is crucial to providing 100 per cent of Scotland’s energy needs from so-called renewable sources in eight years time.
Unfortunately, however, the issue over the efficacy or otherwise of wind power – especially the onshore variety – is being clouded by a clash of two giant personalities. Trump versus Salmond has become the main event, with the former’s appearance at the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee looking like a cross between a circus and a show trial.
Four years ago Mr Trump described Mr Salmond, who was not exactly unhappy when the American’s controversial golf course development was approved in the North East, as “an amazing man”. Now, however, he says that the First Minister is ruining both the vista from his golf course and Scotland’s tourist industry with his obsession with wind power.
And the vitriol is spreading even to the protagonists’ supporters, with one of them, in an Edinburgh newspaper, hilariously dredging up what she reckons is the worst insult on earth by likening Mr Trump to Andrew Neil. Quelle horreur!
For his part Mr Salmond has signalled just how important he reckons his battle with Mr Trump has become by releasing, yesterday, figures which sought to show how many thousands of jobs and how many millions of pounds renewable energy – including wind power – has brought to this country.
No doubt the First Minister and the civil servants who helped him present his new “evidence” would aver that it was pure coincidence that saw this material appear only 48 hours before both Mr Trump’s appearance before the committee and the protest march.
But what the Scottish Executive’s fevered efforts yesterday proved beyond all doubt was that Mr Salmond accepts that his hitherto unchallenged determination to press ahead with highly contentious onshore wind farm developments is now under serious threat.
Because of his exceedingly high profile and penchant for self-publicity Mr Trump may be the current focus for the anti-wind farm campaign. But there are other areas of opposition, too.
On the political front, Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, supported by Prime Minister David Cameron, has ended what has been an all-party consensus on this issue and is insisting that local communities should have the final say in determining whether wind farm developments should go ahead rather than – through the appeal process – St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh.
Isn’t allowing local people to decide what goes on in their localities what democracy is all about?
Mr Salmond may well promise that many local communities will benefit financially from wind farms, through shared ownership schemes, but it is the protest march being staged tomorrow by Communities Against Turbines Scotland (CATS) that should give him most worry.
These are ordinary people from all over Scotland with a genuine concern about what wind farms are doing to their neighbourhoods.
They are the people to whom responsible politicians should be listening, rather than constantly seeking to prove that they, and they alone, know best.
The Donald Trump show will provide some much-needed razzmatazz for the Scottish Parliament tomorrow.
But it is the march of the CATS that will be the most important show in town.
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