As if former reality TV star and current US President* Donald J. Trump needed another headache during his short time in office, along comes the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. Sepa, as it is affectionately known, has just informed the leader of the free world that he is not free to follow through on plans build a second course at his money-losing Trump International Golf Links near the village of Balmedie, Aberdeen.
Why is a golf course in Scotland of interest to CleanTechnica? Good question! First, a little background…
The Trump Golf Course: Trouble From The Start
The existing golf course, built partly on the grounds of the former Menie estate, is a slim shell of what was supposed to be a $1.25 billion investment bringing 6,000 jobs to an area in need of economic stimulation.
A 16-room “boutique” lodging currently sits where a 450-room luxury hotel and 950 time-share apartments were supposed to crowd for space with the links, and as of this writing only about 150 jobs have materialized.
The whole project has been riddled with controversy from the start, including a 2007 finding from Scottish Natural Heritage that the development plans would damage large parts of an important nature conservation area.
As cited by our friends over at the New York Times shortly after Election Day last year, a local official observed:
“If America wants to know what is coming, it should study what happened here…I have just seen him do in America, on a grander scale, precisely what he did here. He suckered the people and he suckered the politicians until he got what he wanted, and then he went back on pretty much everything he promised.”
The Wind Energy Angle
Among the areas of contention involving the golf course is its location near a planned offshore wind farm and research facility, and that’s what caught the CleanTechnica eye. Here’s the rundown from January 18, just before Trump was inaugurated:
In 2011, a consortium called Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Limited applied for a permit to build an experimental 11-turbine wind farm in Aberdeen Bay, about two miles or so from the Trump golf complex.
The new wind farm was proposed as the linchpin of a new wind technology test facility called the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre.
Trump vigorously opposed the plans and took the developers to court, claiming that the offshore wind farm would spoil views from his property.
However, the developers won out. They began meeting with local supply chain interests last fall, and the whole project is on track for commissioning by spring next year.
If you were wondering why Trump seemed particularly peeved about wind power all through last year’s campaign cycle, there’s your answer.
And, it looks like the Wind Deployment Centre will be bringing new jobs to the area, picking up where Trump left off.
What’s Next For The Trump Golf Course
Trump’s original plans for the resort included two golf courses. He put the second one on hold when plans for the wind farm were first unveiled, but — view or no view — apparently he relented (more on that in a bit) and is pushing forward with the second course.
That’s where Sepa comes in. On July 28 The Guardian reported:
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), which polices the country’s water quality and pollution regulations, has tabled formal objections to the proposed course unless the Trump Organization substantially revises its plans, and spends more on sewage and water supplies.
Piling on to the hurt is the country’s conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage, which has found that the new course runs afoul of national policies for land and marine use.
The Guardian provides this snippet from SNH:
“It remains likely that in future coastal-edge dynamism would repeatedly disrupt and increasingly threaten elements of the golf course (whether tees, greens or areas stabilised to support them),” SNH told planning officers. If the Trump Organization tried to protect the course by building solid, artificial walls to stop the dunes from drifting in future, the agency said it was likely to formally object.
Let’s Make A Deal! Or Not!
For a someone who represents himself as a great deal maker, Trump now finds himself in a pickle.
The big payoff of the golf project is not revenue from memberships and use of the links, it’s from hotels, housing, and time shares. The problem is that Trump’s original agreement with local planners requires him to build the second course before he can start in the housing end of the development.
According to Mother Jones, Trump tried to renegotiate the deal last year, promising to build 850 homes and 1,900 timeshare units if local planners would let him delay construction of the second course, but he failed to change hearts and minds.
Adding insult to injury, Trump’s anti-wind rhetoric has not had any effect on the US wind industry, which continues to barrel ahead at breakneck speed.
Image (screenshot): Wind turbine model for EOWDC at Aberdeen Bay by Vattenfall via YouTube.
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