Donald Trump puts the brakes on 'world's greatest golf course' - Macleans.ca

Donald Trump puts the brakes on ‘world’s greatest golf course’

Businessman blames ‘ugly’ wind farm off the Scottish coast for the delay

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Big-winded versus big wind

David Moir/Reuters

Celebrity businessman Donald Trump sure keeps himself in the news. Last year the billionaire flirted with a run for the Republican presidential nomination, and so fiercely contested President Barack Obama’s citizenship that the White House had to produce a presidential birth certificate to prove the man wrong. This year he was awarded an official Scottish coat of arms by the Scottish heraldic authority—after being slapped down for trying to use an unregistered one—while taking another jab at Obama, calling the administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline “disgraceful.” And he’s also announced that he’s about to pull the plug on a controversial $1.2-billion development in Scotland, because of what he calls an “ugly” offshore wind farm.

That seems to be Trump’s latest excuse for not finishing a project that, since 2005, he’s been trumpeting as the “world’s greatest golf course.” The resort was supposed to feature a five-star hotel and hundreds of holiday homes on a pristine area of sand dunes off the Scottish coast north of Aberdeen. Now, the wind farm proposed by a group of energy companies would install 11 wind turbines about 2.5 km off the coast where Trump’s golf resort is located. Trump says until Scottish authorities decide on the fate of the wind farm project, which is not expected to happen at least until May, he’s halting all future developments for the site, including a “super-luxury” clubhouse that, according to a local politician, looks like “a Victorian lunatic asylum.”

As recently as June, though, Trump said that it was the global economic crisis that was forcing him to postpone building part of the luxury resort, including a second course. Now Trump is saying that because of the wind farm, he won’t spend another penny on his megaproject, even after allegedly pouring $160 million into it (the first 18-hole course is scheduled to open in June with only a temporary clubhouse). It all sounds very dubious to the strongest opponents of Trump’s plans: local residents, politicians and environmentalists. “I definitely believe he wants to sell it,” says David Milne, who has rejected Trump’s offers for his property, adjacent to the golf course, for years. A Trump International spokesman says the resort is staying. But since the wind farm is expected to be approved, it’s unclear whose family coat of arms may ultimately fly over the resort—or however much of it sees the light of day.