Golf plans threaten change of 'biblical' scale
DONALD Trump's controversial plan for a £1 billion golf resort in Aberdeenshire will effectively destroy the "jewel in the crown" of Britain's shifting sand dune systems, the Menie inquiry was told yesterday.
Dr Jim Hansom, an expert witness called by environmental watchdog Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), claimed that the mobile sand dune system at the development site – the Menie estate – was "unparalleled" in the UK.
And he claimed the tycoon's plans for the main championship course at Menie would involve "biblical amounts" of sand being moved at a protected site of "national" environmental importance.
Dr Hansom, an expert on coastal research and a former member of the scientific advisory committee of SNH, told the seventh day of the inquiry that the shifting sand dunes where part of the main championship course will be built formed one-third of the nationally protected Foveran Links site of special scientific interest (SSSI).
And he said: "The value of the Menie links as part of the Foveran SSSI cannot be understated. It is the most dynamic, most rapidly moving and largest area of bare sand in this area of Scotland.
"It is, quite simply, the jewel in the crown of the SSSI areas of bare sand in this area of Scotland and therefore the jewel in the crown of the UK resource.
"Within a Great Britain context, this long-lived dune movement has created a distinctive and unique set of landforms whose progressive northerly movement has left in their wake a series of ecological stepping stones back through time."
Dr Hansom, a reader in earth sciences at Glasgow University, said the Trump plans for the course would involve a "substantial" part of the sand dune system being stabilised.
And such stabilisation, he said, would completely remove the "key" scientific interest in the site which had led to its SSSI designation.
"There are substantial amounts of cut and fill required – in fact in some locations there are biblical amounts of sand to be shifted," he said.
Dr Hansom also told the inquiry that a claim by Mr Trump, in his evidence to the inquiry, that the sand dunes could be "blown away" unless they were stabilised was "rubbish".
Dr Hansom said: "The dunes will not be blown away by major storms. These processes and sand sheet movements take place over long periods of time.
"I would be highly surprised if the process disappears and slows down in measure over our lifetime or over the next 100 years or so."
Stewart Angus, the policy and advice manager with SNH, backed Dr Hansom's claims about the impact of the Trump development.
The inquiry continues.
Why threatened dunes are so important
THE Menie links is part of the Foveran links site of special scientific interest (SSSI), which contains four of the six components of the coastal sand-dune habitats that are used by Scottish Natural Heritage for SSSI designation.
They are mobile dunes, fixed acid dune (dunes with herbaceous vegetation), dune heath (fixed dunes where crowberry grows) and dune slacks.
There are 2,220 hectares of mobile dunes in Britain and 1,134 hectares in Scotland.
A total of 40.44 hectares of mobile dune is affected by the Trump development, of which 13.66 hectares lie within the SSSI.
There are 60 Scottish SSSIs that have sand dune as a notified feature, and 28 are said to be in an unfavourable condition. The north Menie part of the Foveran links SSSI has recently been proposed as a Great Britain Geological Conservation Review site, in recognition of its scientific interest at a national level.
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