TYCOON Donald Trump tonight confirmed he had swooped to snap up one of Scotland’s best-known golf resorts - as it emerged a wind farm could be built within view of it.
The billionaire has clinched a deal reputed to be worth £35 milion to take over the Open Championship course and luxury hotel at Turnberry, in South Ayrshire, from the Dubai-based Leisurecorp group.
He made his move just two months after vowing to turn his back on Scotland in the wake of the bitter row over an offshore wind firm he claims will blight his Aberdeenshire development.
However it emerged earlier today that a Marine Scotland report has identified a potential site on the seabed close to the prestigious course where offshore turbines could be installed.
The document details the potential wind farm, a 116-square mile area, just 3.5 miles from the shoreline at Turnberry.
Trump was left furious after losing a lengthy court battle in February against the Scottish Government’s approval of an offshore development near his controversial Menie Estate course.
At the time he said his global organisation would be focusing “all of our investment and energy” on a new golf course development at County Clare, in the Republic of Ireland.
However Trump – who currently owns 16 golf resorts around the globe – last night confirmed he had completed the deal and vowed to make Turnberry “the finest golf hotel in the world.”
He hinted at an immediate name change for the hotel, saying: “’Trump Turnberry’ has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”
But the New York-based businessman insisted he would not “touch a thing” at the world-famous course without speak to officials at the Royal and Ancient, who run the Open Championship.
Trump told Golf.com website: “It was an opportunity, as far as I was concerned.
“Turnberry is considered one of the greatest courses in the world. It’s a special place. It’s an important place.
“Some of the greatest championships in the history of golf have taken place at Turnberry. “And the golf course itself is considered one of the greatest in the world. Some rate it as the best in the world.
“I’m not going to touch a thing unless the Royal and Ancient ask for it or approve it. I have the greatest respect for the R&A and for Peter Dawson (its chief executive). I won’t do anything to the golf course at all without their full stamp of approval.”
The Turnberry resort includes three links courses, a golf academy and the famous five-star hotel, which dates back to 1906 and boasts 149 rooms. It was owned by the Starwood chain from 1997 until 2008, when it was bought over by Leisurecopr, which is a subsidiary of the Dubai government.
Trump added: “This is a fabulous property in a great location. We’re going to bring a new level of luxury to the hotel. Our aim is to make it the finest golf hotel in the world.”
Before February’s court ruling, Trump had already called a halt to any future major investment at his Menie resort, including the development of a planned 140-bedroom hotel. He has been embroiled in a dispute with the Scottish Government over its decision to give the green light to a £230 million windfarm in Aberdeen Bay.
Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s energy minister, last night said proposals for a wind farm off Turnberry had been “removed” from current planning guidance – but refused to rule out the prospect of such a development in the future.
Murdo Fraser MSP, chair of Holyrood’s energy committee, last night suggested that news of a potential wind farm could put Trump off.
Mr Fraser said: “Given Mr Trump’s aggressive opposition to the project off his Menie resort, it’s hard to imagine him pursuing this while the possibility of offshore wind remains.
“It’s another example of the Scottish Government’s gung-ho approach to turbines potentially costing jobs and investment.”
However a spokesman for the energy minister said the proposals had been removed from the current Marine Scotland plan. He said: “The report in question has since been superseded.”
He did, however, add: “Our commitment to harnessing Scotland’s energy wealth will ensure that renewables continue to provide low-carbon energy supplies as well as jobs, investment, and opportunities for Scotland’ long into the future.”