Alex Salmond has declared all-out war on Donald Trump’s campaign to stop the spread of wind farms across Scotland’s countryside by telling the US billionaire it is none of his business.
Speaking ahead of Mr Trump’s appearance at a Holyrood inquiry today, the First Minister said the tycoon’s decision to spend £750 million on a golf resort “does not imply ownership” of Scotland.
Mr Salmond said he will refuse to let Mr Trump dictate his SNP administration’s energy policy as he is accountable only to the Scottish Parliament and people.
In a further escalation of hostilities between the two men, he also published a survey that appeared to demolish the American’s claim that the spread of turbines will destroy Scottish tourism.
But an anti-wind farm campaign group last night defended Mr Trump, saying he is merely representing the views of many rural communities that Mr Salmond is ignoring.
Scotland’s senior planning officials have already told the same inquiry by the economy, energy and tourism committee that the countryside is in danger of becoming a “wind farm landscape” if the First Minister presses ahead with his radical green energy targets.
Mr Trump, who will give evidence this morning, has promised to spend £10 million fighting the plans has warned they amount to “financial suicide” and accused Mr Salmond of “ramming” them through against the will of the people.
The First Minister had previously refused to get drawn into a war of words but used his address to the Scottish Trades Union Congress yesterday to deliver a pre-emptive strike on the tycoon.
“I understand that Scotland’s growing reputation in the renewables revolution is attracting a fair bit of international interest – most of it favourable, some of it, or at least one of it, somewhat less so,” he told delegates, referring to Mr Trump.
“So I want to be clear, congress. We welcome investment in Scotland, in industry, technology and in golf courses.
“But investing in Scotland does not imply ownership of Scotland and in particular the energy policy of this country will be determined by the people and the parliament of Scotland and not by any other party.”
His dismissal of the tycoon’s case was met with applause by delegates. Earlier, VisitScotland, the tourism agency, published a survey showing four out of five people said wind farms would not affect their decision over where to holiday.
The poll, which was released to coincide with Mr Trump’s appearance, found slightly more than half of Scots think turbines do not spoil the countryside.
But a campaign group that is staging a protest march against wind farms in Edinburgh today and giving evidence to the Holyrood inquiry accused Mr Salmond of riding roughshod over residents’ views.
Susan Crossthwaite, chairman of Communities Against Turbines Scotland, said: “People living near wind farms are very happy Mr Trump has raised the whole issue and I really hope that Alex Salmond will start to listen because so many developers are walking all over the planning system in Scotland.”