Donald Trump’s lawyers have warned he is likely to take legal action unless the Scottish Government holds a public inquiry into a proposed offshore wind farm.
The American billionaire is at loggerheads with First Minister Alex Salmond over the 11-turbine development near his Aberdeenshire golf resort and the Government’s broader drive on renewables.
Mr Trump’s £10 million Menie Estate course opened in July but his plans for a hotel and homes in the area have been put on hold until a final decision is made on the wind farm proposal.
Ministers have yet to decide whether the turbines at the European Offshore Wind Development Centre (EOWDC), to be positioned 0.6 miles from the golf resort, can be built.
Mr Trump’s Scottish legal team– headed by Ann Faulds, partner and head of planning at Edinburgh legal firm Dundas and Wilson – has written to Marine Scotland, which manages the sea environment, saying the £230m renewables testing centre should now be the subject of an inquiry.
Mr Trump’s lawyers claim the best evidence as to whether the project would undermine the development at Menie must come from the Trump Organisation itself as “funders, developers and operators of the resort”.
In her letter to Marine Scotland, Ms Faulds said the golf course and hotel had already been subjected to full and robust planning and public law scrutiny – including a judicial review, a parliamentary hearing, a full public inquiry and several public hearings.
She added Mr Trump had a legitimate expectation that his proposals would not be hindered by the incompatible issues that later emerged.
The lawyer said: “The outcome was a clear finding by Scottish ministers that the golf resort was of national economic importance.
“That decision created a legitimate expectation on the part of the Trump Organisation that its investment in the golf resort would not be undermined by the subsequent development of incompatible neighbouring uses.”
Ms Faulds claimed proper scrutiny of the EOWDC plan was needed – including the hearing of oral evidence and cross-examination – to meet the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, with a public inquiry providing the necessary safeguards.
The letter added: “The Scottish Government should leave no stone unturned to establish beyond any reasonable doubt whether or not there is any economic risk to the Menie resort arising from the current location of the proposed EOWDC.
“If you fail to hold a public inquiry into EOWDC, I will strongly recommend to my clients they pursue all legal remedies available to them, including judicial proceedings, to protect their rights and to ensure their legitimate expectations in respect of the Menie resort are met by the Scottish Government.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “A decision on whether to hold a public local inquiry is for Scottish ministers and will be made after taking account of all material considerations and representations relevant to the application. The contents of any correspondence from the Trump Organisation on the matter will be considered in due course.”
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