Donald Trump knew he was going to get some static from protestors in Scotland today.
However he might not have expected this kind of shock, which came when a protestor rubbed a balloon against the billionaire’s trademark hair.
Trump flew into Edinburgh to expand on his feelings about wind farms to MSPs, telling them that the turbines – which he bitterly opposes – would be the ‘destruction of your tourist industry’.
The protestors didn’t agree, with balloons like the one rubbing up against Trump’s famous comb-over covered with the slogan: ‘Wind power, not wind bags’.
However, at least some of the protestors had another axe to grind, with another outpouring of anger about Trump’s golf course in Aberdeenshire, which has caused Trump more headaches than any of his contestants on the Apprentice USA.
After successfully navigating through the hecklers, the tycoon 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.
He told the committee: ‘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, and 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.’
Mike MacKenzie, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, also pressed the US tycoon on the impact that wind farms would have on tourism.
He said the Orkney Islands already produced 100% of their electricity requirements from onshore wind power, but that the landscape there was ‘not overburdened’ with turbines and tourism was growing.
But Mr Trump said he understood that Orkney had a ‘tiny’ population and added: ‘Where you have a tiny population, a couple of windmills can do something.’
He said that without UK subsidies for the wind power developments, ‘Scotland would go broke’ funding them.
Mr Trump argued: ‘If you pursue this goal of these monsters all over Scotland, Scotland will go broke.
‘As sure as you are sitting there, Scotland will go broke.
‘They are being subsidised massively right now by the UK and without that subsidy, if the UK decided they are not going to further subsidise all these windmills, Scotland will go broke.’
He went on to say that ‘most of the important major golf courses and most of the tourist areas are fighting this like mad’.
Mr Trump said: ‘Smart areas that want to remain beautiful and want to remain viable as a tourist area are fighting the industrial turbines looming over their properties.’
He went on to say that a female member of his staff had come to see him and was ‘devastated’ because a small turbine had been put up near her home.
‘She can’t sleep at night because of the noise. She came to me and said: “What do I do, nobody wants to buy my house?”.
‘This is happening by the tens of thousands all over Scotland.’
George Sorial, executive vice president of the Trump Organisation, said if the First Minister ‘gets his way’ another 8,000 to 10,000 wind turbines would be erected.
He told MSPs: ‘It’s not necessarily what you have now, it’s what you propose to build over the next four to five years to achieve your renewable goals.’
Committee convenor Murdo Fraser turned to Mr Trump’s written submission to the committee, which said: ‘Scotland, at the very highest ministerial level, encouraged with overwhelming promises, public statements and various offers to support,’ when he took the decision to build his golf course in the north east.
Mr Fraser said: ‘Can I ask you, what were these promises that were made to you, when were they made, and who made them?’
Mr Trump told the committee he had been planning to buy the land for the development when he heard of the proposed wind farm nearby.
He said: ‘If you remember – and there was a big hoopla – I was going to go and I was going to build in Ireland, because of the fact that the wind farm was going to be built fairly near our course in Scotland.
‘Jack McConnell (the then first minister) said it won’t be built, and his people were telling George (Sorial) and my people it won’t happen – the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would never approve it because it had something to do with the radar and there was something about the shipping lanes, especially because it’s near Aberdeen – they said it won’t happen.
‘It was very prevalent for a short period of time and then it totally disappeared. Based on that – nothing in writing, but based on that – I decided I’ll go forward.’
Mr Trump said Mr Salmond, who became First Minister in May 2007, had also ‘poo-pooed’ the wind farm development, saying there was an MoD problem and ‘all sorts of shipping lane problems’.
He added: ‘Now I’ve invested tens of millions of pounds, I`ve completed my site ahead of schedule. I’ve built something that even my enemies say is the most spectacular.
‘After I’ve invested this tremendous amount of money, all of a sudden this really obnoxious and ugly wind farm appears – which is worse than a wind farm because there is going to be all these different looking windmills.
‘It’s going to look like Disneyland – except a bad version of Disneyland.’
Mr Trump said he ‘felt betrayed’ because he had invested his money because of statements that had been made to him.
Mr Trump told the committee that the Government`s targets on renewables were ‘absolutely ridiculous’.
‘China, where you buy your unattractive industrial wind turbines, is decimating the atmosphere,’ he said.
‘Here you are, destroying the financial well-being of Scotland in order to meet phoney and totally random CO2 targets.’
He added: ‘Renewable fine. Wind fine, if it`s in the right location.
‘But for you to be setting targets when China and certain other countries are decimating the atmosphere, I think it`s very foolhardy.’
Mr Trump said Scotland was ’20 years behind the times’ because other countries were giving up turbines.
He told the committee that Scotland should move towards hydro energy, using Georgia as an example.
He said the former Soviet country now gains almost 100% of its power from hydro.
‘I think, just as a recommendation to this committee, you should seriously study hydro,’ Mr Trump said.
Asked about the various opinion polls which showed public support for wind technology, Mr Trump said the results depended on how surveys were worded.
‘Nobody knows more about polls than me,’ he said.
‘I will tell you that if you did a straight-up poll to people that have experienced the disaster of these industrial turbines being near their houses and in their community, you would have a tremendous negative result.
‘Scotland should reject them for another reason – you can`t afford it.’
SNP MSP Angus MacDonald said the SNP had campaigned during last year`s Scottish elections on its renewables policies, stating the party`s majority win was ‘vindication’ of public support and Mr Trump was ‘out of touch’ with public opinion.
Mr Trump replied: ‘Excuse me, that`s because the public wasn`t given the facts by you or by Alex Salmond. If Alex Salmond was smart, he would stop this right now.
‘This is the same thinking that gave you Megrahi, where they let him out of prison because he`d be dead within two weeks.
‘Well, guess what, he was seen running in the park last week. This is the exact same thing.’
Mr Trump went on to tell the committee that he believed climate change was ‘not man-made’.
He added: ‘I think you are spending billions and billions of pounds unnecessarily and going to affect the future of Scotland.’
The businessman said many of the jobs linked to wind farms were being created in other countries, with ‘very few jobs’ coming to Scotland.
He warned: ‘Any jobs that are being created here are more than offset by what you are going to lose in your most important industry, tourism.
‘You are going to lose tremendous numbers of jobs in tourism and I feel very strongly about that.
‘So, the few jobs that you will create will be offset to a much larger extent by the jobs you are going to lose in tourism.’
He also insisted he would ‘immediately’ start work on the hotel planned as part of his golf development in the north east if the Vattenfall wind power development was ‘terminated’.
Mr Trump said: ‘We have a tremendous investment in this development, I would love to proceed with this development.
‘I can’t proceed if the hotel is going to be looking into industrial turbines and nobody here would if you were in my position.
‘But if the Vattenfall job is terminated, I will immediately proceed with the hotel and I am looking forward to doing it.’
He claimed his golf development, which he said would be worth £750million when finished, was a ‘much bigger project’ than the wind farm.
The American said: ‘I will start on the hotel immediately if I hear that that horrendously located wind farm will not be built.’
Mr Sorial insisted that ‘people all over Scotland are screaming in opposition’ to wind power.
He told politicians: ‘Just because you were democratically elected doesn’t mean you have a right to unilaterally and just carte blanche impose all your policies on your people.’
Also appearing before the committee were Mark Gibson and Graham Lang, both representing the organisation Communities Against Turbines Scotland.
Mr Lang said people living near wind farms were being treated as ‘collateral damage’ or ‘cannon fodder’.
He told MSPs that soundbites from pro-wind organisations concerning the efficiency and effectiveness of wind technology ‘did not stand up to sensible scrutiny’.
Mr Gibson said wind farm developers were placing ‘sustained and intolerable pressure’ on communities.
He added: ‘At the moment, the entire focus of government policy, and the only way of achieving the targets you have set yourselves, is through onshore wind.
‘It would be a disastrous mistake, I think. What we need is a whole system review.
‘Are we doing it for energy security? Are we doing it to save the planet? Nobody has done the most elementary preliminary study.’
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