We’re waiting agog over here in Scotland for Mitt Romney’s BFF Donald Trump to come and “give evidence” to the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee on Wednesday.
I covered the background to Trump’s efforts to develop a “world-class” golf resort on the Menie Estate near Aberdeen in an earlier post, along with his threats that the proposed installation of the Vattenfall experimental offshore windfarm some miles from his new gated golfing community meant that he wouldn’t go ahead with the second phase—the construction of a hotel and major housing development. As I pointed out at the time, this is all utter humbug since back in June 2011, we saw the announcement:
Donald Trump has been forced to postpone his plan to create the “world’s greatest” golf resort in Scotland, complete with five-star hotel and luxury villas, because of the global financial crisis.
The billionaire property developer flew into Aberdeen on Monday on his latest luxury jet, a Boeing 757-200 fitted out with a master bedroom and five kitchens, to announce that his championship standard 18-hole golf course overlooking the North Sea would open for play in July next year.
... the tycoon said that the full scheme, a £750m complex featuring a luxury hotel, Trump Boulevard, a golf academy, a second course and timeshare apartments, had been bunkered by the recession.
Trump said “the world has crashed” since he first bought the Menie estate and dunes in 2005, provoking a long-running battle with local residents, councillors and environmental groups about his proposals, which has involved heavily altering the legally protected rare dunes.
In fact, as early as December 2008 there had been persistent rumors that Trump’s extravagant scheme would have to be scaled back because of economic considerations. When he proclaimed plans to build a mansion for himself on the land:
The announcements follow strenuous denials yesterday by the businessman’s company that they were scaling back the development in the face of the economic downturn and a series of legal and financial dismissals.
George Sorial, the manager of the Menie project, reiterated Mr Trump’s commitment, stating that any rumours of cutbacks were “just not true”.
Earlier this year, though, Trump had changed his tune and began a characteristically blustery vendetta against the Scottish Government’s drive for renewable energy, claiming that this was the reason he might shelve his plans.
The plot has thickened somewhat, as the Glasgow Herald revealed yesterday:
Last month he warned Salmond that he would become known as “Mad Alex – the man who destroyed Scotland” if he proceeded with plans for wind farms around the coast and across the country. In his evidence to the committee this week, he lambasts government plans for “horrendous, costly and highly inefficient industrial turbines”.
Ministers’ proposed “wind-farm landscape” will “completely end tourism in Scotland”, Trump claims. “Scotland is, in effect, committing financial suicide,” he says. “Your pristine countryside and coastlines will forever be destroyed and Scotland will go broke.”
But in the leaked letter to Vattenfall’s chief executive, Øystein Løseth, his company took a different tack. Dated December 14, 2010, it was written on behalf of the Trump Organisation by the lawyer, Ann Faulds, a partner with Edinburgh law firm Dundas and Wilson, and copied to the First Minister, the Scottish government’s chief planner and senior officials at Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen councils. “The Trump Organisation fully supports efforts being made by the Scottish Government and the Scottish renewable energy industry to achieve ambitious national targets to meet 20% of Scotland’s energy demand from renewable sources by 2020,” the letter said.
“Our clients support proposals for appropriately located wind farms and ultimately wish your projects every success.” The letter went on to express specific concerns about the visual impact of Vattenfall’s scheme off the Aberdeenshire coast, and complain about the lack of consultation.
Trump’s trying to claim that he had an agreement with the previous Scottish First Minister that no windfarm development would go ahead near his course.
He is also expected to renew his attack on both Salmond and former first minister Lord McConnell, claiming he was given assurances that the windfarm development would not go ahead. Both Salmond and McConnell, who lost power at the 2007 Holyrood elections, deny any such guarantees.
Unfortunately for him, even if there were ever such an undertaking, it wouldn’t be binding on future administrations. Hey that’s business, Donny. Next time, get it in writing.
As you can imagine, the reception for Trump’s campaign over here has been somewhat mixed, to say the least (check out the comments in any of those articles I’ve linked). Even the anti-windfarm campaigns that stand to benefit from the £10 million or so he’s pledged to his opposition efforts are rather uneasy to have his support since he’s such a divisive loose cannon and abrasive personality, he and his revolting henchman George “Ugly American” Sorial (whose past bullying PR masterstrokes have included threatening a councillor opposed to Trump’s plans that she “would be out of a job after the council elections in May”) play fast and loose with the truth, and the history of his Menie Estate development has been so rancorous.
As well as media efforts such as that video up top (I’ve no idea how they persuaded The Donald to take part in it, but he plays a mean piano, a few bum notes notwithstanding), there’s also a movie, You’ve Been Trumped, which played to packed houses when it debuted in Aberdeen last year. Here’s the trailer:
If Wednesday’s committee session ends up being as entertaining as it promises, I’ll keep you updated.