Plans by US leader Donald Trump to build a second championship golf course on his Scottish estate in memory of his late mother could be holed by widespread opposition.
It has long been his ambition to construct a second world-class golf course on his Scottish estate in tribute to his late Scots-born mother, but US President Donald Trump’s dreams could be shattered by extensive opposition including a powerful environmental organization.
Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has insisted the move be rejected because the US billionaire businessman has failed to honor investment promises, given at the time he was granted permission for the first development on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.
Before his presidential victory, Mr. Trump promised he would spend US$1.3 billion (£1 billion) building a premier golf resort in the north east of Scotland, involving a 450-bedroom hotel and almost 1,500 holiday and residential homes. The development would create in the region of 6,000 jobs.
To date, however, The Trump Organization has only built one golf course, a clubhouse, 16-bedroom boutique hotel and some lodges, employing a total of 150 people. Now Mr. Salmond — who originally supported the project — insists that is not good enough.
“The people who were putting it forward did not live up and honor the agreements they made to the Scottish people,” Mr. Salmon said.
Asked if he had been taken in by Mr. Trump, the former Scottish National Party (SNP) leader said:
“To the extent that I found it difficult to believe that somebody could be so brazenly certain of an investment plan at a public local inquiry and then make very little attempt to bring it home.”
“I think The Trump Organization, whoever’s putting forward the proposals, will have a huge credibility problem in persuading this generation of planners and councilors in Aberdeenshire to believe the commitments they’re now making given the track record of the last 10 years,” Mr. Salmond said.
Permission for the development was only granted after the Scottish government called in the application 10 years ag, because of fears surrounding the environmental impact on the area.
The golf course sits on a site of special scientific interest because of a mobile sand dune system considered one of the finest examples in Britain.
An urgent review is presently being carried out after environmental damage has been reported to the officially protected dune system.
“We routinely review the suite of SSSIs (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and check they still have the special features, such as species or habitats, that they were selected for, if they have changed, then it’s sometimes necessary to adjust the boundary and denotify all or parts of the site,” a Scottish Natural Heritage spokesperson told Sputnik.
“We’re currently reviewing the SSSI boundary of Foveran Links and hope to complete this by the end of December. This will include assessing how the construction of the championship golf course has altered the SSSI.
“The golf course has now been constructed and, as expected, there are areas where there has been some permanent habitat loss — for example, where tracks, tees, fairways and greens have been constructed,” the spokesperson added.
Jim Gifford, leader of Aberdeenshire Council, believes it was not worth the environmental trade off as things stand at present.
“For what is only there just now — because the economic benefit hasn’t come through. But in the big picture that was put in front of us 10 years ago, it was worth doing,” he said.
“I think they have an obligation to bring forward what they promised, that’s the bottom line of it. The difficulty we have is we can’t force them to do that.”
‘We’re Not Stupid’
The Trump Organization has submitted a planning application for a second golf course, which has already been met with strong opposition.
Sarah Malone, of Trump International Golf Links Scotland, insisted it was not finished.
“It’s a multi-phase project and we’re not stupid. This wasn’t going to get built overnight,” Ms. Malone said.
“It’s a long term investment opportunity for us and that’s how Mr. Trump has always approached it. Even if we’d only spent £10 million (US$13.3 million) that should be celebrated.”
The American president has always taken pride in his Scottish roots after his mother, Mary McLeod, was born in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.
“My mother loved Scotland and I want to create a lasting tribute to her,” he said during a visit.
On the resort’s website, Mr. Trump states: “She grew up in a simple croft until she landed in Manhattan at the age of 20 and her first language was Gaelic.”