Donald Trump Comes Courting…

With all the trappings of a block buster movie Donald Trump’s application to build “the world’s best golf course” on the north side of Aberdeen was headline news just before Christmas 2007. Given its apparent irrelevance to mountaineering issue NEMT did not at first respond – however, as the scope of the story developed we submitted the following letter. A public local enquiry is now to be made into the application, commencing in June 2008.

11th December, 2007

Scottish Executive Rural Affairs and the Environment
Pentland House, 47 Robb’s Loan

FAO: John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth
cc: Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment

Dear Minister


The Scottish Government does not need to be told of the seriousness of issues involved in the above application. Whilst the Aberdeen based North East Mountain Trust has a limited remit on coastal issues we are bound to comment given the far reaching precedents that will now be set, regardless of the outcome.

Whilst our Members’ opinions vary, we are united in our view that allowing Mr Trump “a hole in one” would challenge the integrity of Scotland’s planning system. Sustainable development is a balance of economic, environmental and social factors. If this application is accepted as it stands, the economic factor has over-ruled both the local SSSI conditions and the democracy of the Local Plan. We herewith ask the Scottish Government to make a proper stand on all fronts.

The juxtaposition of “Scotland being closed for business” is set against “You can over-rule Scotland’s planning system with the American dollar”. For a development of this size we would also expect an independent analysis should be made of the full financial case, with visitor projections etc included before any decision is taken.

It is not forgotten that Mr Trump ruled out an offshore wind-farm on visual grounds and this clearly negates the value that such a development would bring to Aberdeen. Such an application need not rule out the installation of wave energy systems.

The building of 950 holiday and 500 luxury homes, plus a 450-room hotel, leads some to say “this is a housing development with a golf course tagged on”. NEMT knows Aberdeenshire Council plans to build 50,000 new houses in the North East in the next 25 years. This application has scope to supply some of these provided they are affordable houses.

Thus whist Mr Trump is promised “an answer by Christmas” NEMT sees it as essential that this is not to be an “unconditional yes.” We strongly encourage the Scottish Government to make sure, that if it is minded to accept, then it is critical that this is done on Scotland’s terms as a “Bon Accord” and genuine partnership between Mr Trump and Scotland’s environmental, economic and social framework. This will take time to work out so the Scottish Government should not be cornered or bullied into moving so quickly that they make the wrong decision.

Yours sincerely

Jennifer A Cook
NEMT Chairwoman

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