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November 12, 2013 6:40 pm
Lawyers for Donald Trump on Tuesday sought to overturn Scottish government approval for a £230m offshore wind project that the billionaire US developer has said could spell “the destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself”.
The judicial review, at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, is the latest episode in a long-running drama centred on Mr Trump’s controversial golf course and property development near Aberdeen.
It also marks something of a reversal of roles. Critics of Mr Trump’s project were outraged in 2008 when the Scottish government smoothed the way for the golf course to be built on protected coastal dunes after it had been blocked by local planners.
Mr Trump is now complaining about the Scottish government’s approval of an 11-turbine experimental wind farm he says will ruin the view from his prizewinning course and proposed associated hotel and housing.
The “obsession” with wind power of Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, would ruin Scottish tourism, Mr Trump complained in March, vowing to spend “whatever monies are necessary” to block the Aberdeen turbines.
“We will be bringing a lawsuit . . . to stop what will definitely be the destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself,” he said.
Mr Trump’s development has the support of many residents and businesses in the area, but there have also been allegations of bullying of local residents who were unwilling to sell their properties.
Some locals say the US developer’s concerns for the area’s beautiful sea views are not matched by consideration for the views from homes near the course, which has been screened with trees and tall earth banks.
“He is complaining about the effect on his view, yet he has blocked ours with trees,” said resident David Milne. “He thinks he can do what he likes, but that everybody else has to do what they are told.”
On the first of an expected four days of hearings, Mr Trump’s lawyers argued that Scottish government approval for the wind farm was illegal and that a public inquiry should have been held into the project, which has maximum planned generating capacity of 100mw.
“We are very optimistic that our arguments will prevail,” said George Sorial, counsel to the Trump Organisation.
The Scottish government declined to comment on the judicial review, but is strongly committed to offshore wind.
The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre project, which has been promised a €40m grant from the EU, is intended to provide a test base for different technologies while also generating electricity on a commercial basis.
But the project recently suffered a setback, when local councillors refused permission for an onshore substation in the village of Blackdog. The commitment of majority investor Vattenfall, a state-owned Swedish energy group, is also in question.
Vattenfall, which owns 75 per cent of the project, said in May that it was looking for investors and the company said on Tuesday it could sell “all or part” of the stake. “We are encouraged by the interest” shown by possible investors, said Jason Ormiston, Vattenfall spokesman.
WWF Scotland, the Environmental group, said it hoped the court would uphold approval for the project.
“It’s depressing to think that Donald Trump has nothing better to do than use his vast wealth to try and undermine Scotland’s aim of becoming a cleaner, greener, job-creating nation,” it said.
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