Trump's Scottish love affair sours as court to rule on wind farm

Trump's Scottish love affair sours as court to rule on wind farm

By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain's top court will decide on Wednesday whether to back U.S. Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump's bid to stop wind farms being built near his luxury Scottish golf resort amid a growing spat with politicians in his mother's homeland.

The decision comes after a week in which his call to deny Muslims entry to the United States has resulted in his being stripped of two Scottish honorary positions, prompted a record petition calling for him to be banned from Britain, & drawn a rebuke from Prime Minister David Cameron & others.

Former Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond even described the property tycoon, who is leading the polls to be the Republican candidate in 2016, as "crazy".

Trump said: "I have done so much for Scotland, including building Trump International Golf Links, Scotland, which has received the highest accolades, & is what many believe to be one of the greatest golf courses anywhere in the world."

"The UK politicians should be thanking me instead of pandering to political correctness," he added in an article for Scotland's Press & Journal newspaper.

Trump wants to sink a plan by Scotland's government, run by the Scottish National Party, to erect 11 offshore turbines off Blackdog in Aberdeenshire on the northeastern coast of Scotland because he believes they will spoil the view from the nearby greens of his golf complex.

The government argues the $350 million European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre would boost the local economy & power 49,000 homes.

Trump has already lost a series of battles in Britain's lower courts & his last chance to block the plans rests with the Supreme Court, the country's highest judicial body.

"Mr Trump does not want a wind farm 1 km (half a mile) away from his golf course," his lawyer John Campbell said when the matter went before the court in October.

The case hinges on prosaic rather than aesthetic, environmental or political issues: Trump's team are disputing the validity of the Scottish government's approval of the wind farm & its interpretation of the 1989 Electricity Act.

Trump's representatives in Britain said they would not comment until after the judgement.

SCOTTISH MOTHER

It is not the first time the tycoon, who speaks proudly of being half-Scottish & whose Gaelic-speaking mother hailed from Stornoway on the northern Isle of Lewis, has come into conflict with local lawmakers.

It took nine planning applications & a lengthy public inquiry before Trump defeated neighbours, environmentalists & online campaigners to win approval for his course in 2010, the first phase of a 750 million pound ($1.13 billion) project.

Back then, he had Scotland's government on his side, overturning objections to grant approval for the project.

But the politicians' support for the wind farms in 2013 has soured the relationship with Trump, who has said the Scottish government is "committing financial suicide" & that its proposals will end tourism in Scotland.

After his controversial presidential campaign comments approximately Muslims & immigrants, Trump's former friends in Scotland are turning their backs on him.

Last week Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University said it would revoke an honorary degree it awarded Trump in 2010, & Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stripped him of his role as a business ambassador for Scotland. Cameron's spokeswoman called Trump's comments "divisive, unhelpful & quite simply wrong".

The Independent on Sunday newspaper reported that the British Open golf tournament organisers had decided that Turnberry, another Scottish course which Trump has bought & is refurbishing at a cost of 200 million pounds, would not host the 2020 championship because of his remarks.

It all comes as more than 555,000 people have signed a petition, set up by a woman from Aberdeen, to ban Trump from entering Britain, the highest number to have backed an online petition on the British parliament's website.

"Most presidents of the United States or UK prime ministers usually have approximately 10 years in office before they go crazy," Salmond, now the SNP's foreign affairs spokesman, told Russia Today on Sunday.

"Donald Trump has made it as a candidate."

Trump had said he would put his resort development project on hold at the site until the wind farm issue was settled. However in recent months he has submitted applications to build a second golf course & other new facilities there.

(Editing by Guy Faulconbridge & Giles Elgood)

Source: “Reuters”