US tycoon Donald Trump has told the Scottish Parliament that wind farms will destroy tourism.
The outspoken businessman is giving his views to MSPs probing the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets.
Mr Trump is an outspoken critic of wind farms and bitterly opposes an offshore turbine development near the site of his golf course in Aberdeenshire.
He said: “This is a very, very serious problem that we are addressing. In my opinion, it is one of the most serious problems that Scotland will have or has had.”
He offered support to technologies such as wind and wave, but warned: “Wind turbines, made in China, are going to be the destruction – almost a total destruction – of your tourism industry.”
Mr Trump referred to a single turbine erected near the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, saying that members were “blind-sided” by the planning application.
Turning to his own development at Menie estate, about 10 miles north of Aberdeen, he told MSPs: “I’ve spent a tremendous amount of money – debt-free, no debt on the property, nothing – building what many are already considering to be the greatest golf course anywhere in the world.
“I don’t want to see it destroyed by having 11 monstrosities built looming over it, literally one mile away.”
Despite it being an offshore turbine testing centre in the North Sea, Mr Trump said: “It’s actually land-based, it’s not sea-based, because when you’re talking about one mile you’re really talking about land-based. We don’t want this to happen.”
A survey for tourism body VisitScotland, published yesterday, found that four out of five people said wind farms do not affect their decisions over where to holiday in the UK.
Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, has defended his push for a “renewables revolution”.
In an earlier letter to Mr Trump, the First Minister told him: “It is my belief that Scotland’s great cities and ports are ideally placed to become a key hub for the rapidly growing multibillion-pound offshore renewables industry.
“Our waters are estimated to have as much as a quarter of Europe’s potential offshore wind energy and we are perfectly positioned to develop the technology that will power this remarkable renewables revolution.”
The Scottish Government wants renewable energy sources to meet the existing demand for electricity by 2020.
But Mr Trump went on to tell MSPs: “Many countries have decided they don’t want wind, because it doesn’t work without massive subsidies, it kills massive amounts of birds and wildlife and there are lots of other reasons.
“It’s a very inefficient form of energy, it’s an energy that when you need it most you don’t get it because the wind isn’t blowing when you need it most.”
He claimed the subsidies needed to support wind power developments were “enormous” and added that wind farms were “so unattractive, so noisy, so ugly and so dangerous”.
Mr Trump continued: “If Scotland does this, I think Scotland will be in serious trouble.
“You will lose your tourism industry to Ireland and lots of other places that are laughing at what Scotland is doing.”
However, SNP MSPs on the committee pressed Mr Trump on his belief that wind farms would damage the tourism sector.
Chic Brodie said there had been a 9% increase in tourism visits to Scotland last year and pointed to research by VisitScotland in which 80% of people in the UK said the presence of a wind farm would not affect their decision about where to stay when on a holiday or short break in Britain.
The South of Scotland MSP asked the US tycoon what analysis he had that “supports the assertions you have made against wind”.
But Mr Trump insisted he was “an expert on tourism”.
He told MSPs: “I have won many many awards over the last short period of time, let alone long period of time. My clubs are rated amongst the best in the world.
“I am an expert on tourism. If you dot your landscape with these horrible, horrible structures, you will do tremendous damage.”
Mr Brodie demanded Mr Trump produce “clinical evidence” to support his views.
However, the American insisted: “I am the evidence. I am an expert in tourism, I am considered a world-class expert in tourism, so when you say where is the evidence, I am the evidence.”
However, Mr Brodie told him: “I think this has probably got more to do with property values, having looked at your accounts to the year end 2010.
“I think property values have a lot to do with it.”
The Nationalist MSP also pressed Mr Trump on the impact of turbines on golf courses.
Mr Brodie said he had spoken to the secretary of the Royal St Georges golf course at Sandwich in Kent, which has a wind farm seven miles away, and added: “The view is it will not affect the golf there at all.”
But Mr Trump said: “We will see what happens.”
He added that the Royal Aberdeen course had been “decimated”, saying: “It’s not going to hold any more championships, it can’t hold any more championships.
“There won’t be tournaments there, there won’t be championships there. One of the great jewels of Scotland has been devastated and, I know this, the people at Turnberry are fighting like mad not to have the windmills built. They are fighting like mad.”
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