Bloomberg News

Donald Trump Vows to Fight Scottish Wind Farm Plan in Courts

February 13, 2013

Donald Trump will fight any approval of an offshore wind farm overlooking his Scottish golf resort in the courts for years, according to George Sorial, the executive in charge of the New York billionaire’s project.

Trump is deferring plans to build a five-star hotel, 500 homes and 950 rental apartments at the 750 million-pound ($1.17 billion) resort until a decision on the proposal to build 11 offshore wind turbines in Aberdeen Bay, Sorial said yesterday in an interview.

“It will be many years before we have exhausted the appeals process, which we will certainly do,” Sorial said. “We are confident they will never be built.”

Trump has been at loggerheads for more than a year with Alex Salmond over the Scottish First Minister’s flagship policy of making the nation the hub of European wind power by generating all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Trump, who two days ago submitted plans to build a second golf course on his 1,400 acre (567 hectare) Menie estate, says the policy will hurt Scottish tourism.

The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, a venture between Vattenfall AB, Technip SA and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, applied in 2011 to install wind turbines 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) out to sea. They would be 651-feet (198-meters) high to the tip of the blades. Marine Scotland hasn’t decided whether to give the go-ahead for the 230 million-pound development.

“We will be able to prevent construction,” Sorial said. Trump is willing to appeal the wind farm to courts in London should he fail to block it in Scotland, he said. “We are very optimistic we can defeat them.”

Democratically Elected

Salmond, whose electoral district includes Trump’s estate, has said he and Trump are destined to disagree on the matter and energy policy should be set by democratically-elected officials.

Trump told Scottish lawmakers last year he had had assurances from Salmond, and his predecessor Jack McConnell, that the wind-farm plan wouldn’t proceed because of objections from the U.K. Ministry of Defence.

Trump has outlined his opposition in letters to Salmond and news organizations over the past year. In one, he described Salmond as “Mad Alex” who would turn Scotland into a third- world economy by building “monstrous” turbines and ruining tourism.

Energy Policy

The government won’t be making any further comment on the application until after Marine Scotland has considered the views of everyone who was consulted and ministers have made a decision, the government said in a statement.

“The First Minister has said previously that it is for the Scottish Parliament and Ministers to determine Scotland’s energy policy,” according to the statement.

Trump identified his site at Balmedie, north of Aberdeen, as a potential 750 million-pound golf resort in 2005 and battled for almost three years to gain consent to build the two courses as well as the 450-bed hotel, homes and apartments.

Trump bought the 1,400-acre Menie estate in 2006. His planning application was rejected by Aberdeenshire Council in November 2007, six months after Salmond’s Scottish National Party won elections and its first term in power. Finance Secretary John Swinney overturned the planning decision in 2008, citing the economic and social benefits.

Sand Dunes

Opponents faulted Trump’s plans to build part of the course on a stretch of sand dunes that government environmental advisers said should be protected. Trump planted marram grass in a stretch of the dunes, a site designated of special scientific interest, to stop them moving northward a few yards each year and encroaching on the golf course.

“The decision to go forward with the second course was driven by demand,” Sorial said. “We are on track to sell out 22,000 rounds this year plus corporate outings. We are selling as many rounds as we can.”

The first course, which opened for the season in July and closed in October, sold more than 10,000 rounds in its first year, Sorial said. It will reopen in April and may stay open into November, he said.

Trump is looking to start building the second course this year, assuming it will take four to six months to gain planning consent. The first course took 18 months to build and the latest should take less time, Sorial said.

Trump has spent 100 million pounds on the estate, putting in infrastructure and building the first course. The Mary MacLeod course, named for Trump’s Scottish-born mother, should be less costly, Sorial said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at pwoodifield@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Lytle at dlytle@bloomberg.net


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