Ministers have approved the controversial offshore wind project that prompted Donald Trump to accuse Alex Salmond of “destroying” Scotland.
The 11-turbine European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre will be built in sight of the American tycoon’s £750 million golf resort on the Menie estate north of Aberdeen.
He claims he has built the “best golf course in the world” at the site and was due to add a luxury hotel and housing. However, he announced last year that he was putting further work on hold until the wind project was rejected.
Speaking from New York, the billionaire claimed the Scottish Government’s decision was purely political and was dictated by Mr Salmond, who he described as “a man whose obsession with obsolete wind technology will destroy the magnificence and beauty of Scotland”.
He added that his plans would remain on hold until the “ridiculous proposal” was defeated, and announced that he would be taking legal action to stop the “destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself”.
Mr Trump said: “We will spend whatever monies are necessary to see to it that these huge and unsightly industrial wind turbines are never constructed. All over the world they are being abandoned, but in Scotland they are being built.”
Five years ago, when his application for a new golf resort on the edge of the North Sea was being considered, he described the First Minister as an “amazing man”.
The pair have since fallen out in spectacular fashion, with the American businessman claiming that the SNP’s “insane” support for wind farms was making Scotland a “laughing stock” and destroying the country’s tourism industry.
He also suggested the First Minister was threatening to do “more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history”.
Mr Salmond responded last year by saying that no amount of “noise and foot stamping” would influence the decision on the Aberdeen Bay development or distract the Scottish Government from discharging its responsibilities properly. He also said he would have no role in the decision-making process.
Mr Trump claims the “demonstrator” offshore site will spoil the view from his golf course, which has been praised by some of the world’s most famous golfers.
However, Fergus Ewing, the Energy Minister, said offshore renewables represented a huge opportunity for Scotland to build new industries and deliver on “ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction targets”.
He added: “The proposed European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre will give the industry the ability to test and demonstrate new technologies in order to accelerate its growth.
“The centre will also generate up to 100 MW, enough electricity to meet the electricity needs of almost half the homes in Aberdeen City. It secures Aberdeen’s place as the energy capital of Europe.
“In consenting this application I have put in place a number of conditions to mitigate a range of impacts.” There were 465 representations in support of the scheme, and 148 against.
The EOWDC project, one and a half miles from the tycoon’s estate, is a £230 million venture by the Swedish utility company Vattenfall, the engineering firm Technip and the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group.
Iain Todd, the project spokesman, welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision and said it helped position Scotland, the UK and Europe “at the global vanguard of the sector”.
He added: “The decision also confirms Aberdeen City and shire’s status as a world-class energy hub, bringing with it significant economic benefits which will be pivotal to ensuring the region’s long-term prosperity.
“The project partners will assess the consent and associated conditions as part of the planning and programming for the next phase of the scheme.”
Mr Salmond, the MSP for Aberdeenshire East, welcomed the decision and described the north-east of Scotland as a world energy capital.
“A deployment centre will put Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in pole position for the development of offshore wind technology,” said the First Minister. “Our ambition must be to see Scotland as the home of research, development, fabrication and deployment of deep-water marine technology.”
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