America's Donald Trump hopes to block Scottish wind farm

Dan McCue Monday, 27 February 2012


American celebrity real estate developer Donald Trump has reportedly teamed up with opponents of Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond's plan to develop offshore wind as part of a strategy to meet 100 percent of the country's electricity needs with renewables by 2020.

America

Trump, who built his fortune and his reputation in the tough-as-nails and uber competitive New York City real estate market, and has since gone on to become a major television star in the states with his "Apprentice" franchise, is sending a key advisor to Scotland this week to meet with representatives of Communities Against Turbines Scotland.

George Sorial, an executive vice president and attorney with the Trump Organization, will meet with the CATS group at a meeting to be held in St. Andrews on Thursday.

According to multiple media reports, the tycoon is livid over Salmond's plans to have a wind farm installed off the coast of Scotland, adjacent to a world-class golf course Trump plans to open this summer at Menie Estate.

Trump himself had to fight for the right to development of the course, which local planners originally opposed on the basis of its impact on sand dunes and wildlife in the area.

But after a long public debate, the Scottish government approved the plan, which calls for the course to eventually be augmented by a hotel, golf villas and other high-end amenities.

If built out as Trump plans -- something he has said is entirely contingent on local market conditions, the total investment by Trump and his various backers could be as much as $1.1 billion.

The rub, at least from Trump's perspective, is that the wind project being developed off the Aberdeenshire coast by Vattenfall, a Swedish energy group, and the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, a private-public partnership, would ultimately diminish his project's value, and lead to Scotland being "encircled by these monstrous turbines".

Trump has also been quoted describing wind turbines as “horrendous machines” and “ugly monstrosities”.

In the past month the war of words has only escalated.

Late last week, the BBC reported that Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said decisions on energy and economic policy were for the Scottish government and that Trump was trying to bully the government to bend to his will.

The Trump organization has characterized such assertions as absurd, but Stuart was undaunted.

"Decisions over Scotland's energy and economic policy are for the democratically-elected government of Scotland, not billionaire American businessmen sitting in New York," he told the BBC.

"Donald Trump's attempts to interfere in those decisions appear to be no more than an attempt to bully the Scottish government," he continued.

Asked to respond by the BBC, Sorial dismissed the bullying charge, describing it as an "absurd" assertion.

But, he added, "Make no mistake about it, this is a fight.

"If the government is so secure and confident in their proposals they should be able to stand up to a challenge," Sorial told the broadcaster. "That's what we are doing. We are challenging, we are putting the facts out. That's not bullying."

As the war of words rages on, bystanders are beginning to take sides.

Among those opposing Trump's position is Dr. Dan Barlow, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland.

In a written statement sent to REM, Barlow said, "Given the urgent need to tackle climate change it is deeply depressing to hear in detail how Donald Trump intends using his vast wealth to try to kill-off one of the clean, green solutions available to the people of Scotland.

"Along with energy efficiency and other forms of renewables wind power is helping to reduce emissions, create jobs and export opportunities. Donald Trump's efforts to undermine Scotland's renewables ambitions are misguided," Barlow said.

For additional information:

Herald Scotland

BBC

Financial Times

WWF Scotland

Trump Organization

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