DCSIMG

Trump: I could lose millions over golf plan

DONALD Trump said he may lose money on the controversial £1 billion golf resort he plans to create in Aberdeenshire and said he will abandon the project if he does not get approval to build houses on the site.

The tycoon was back in Scotland to make another visit to the site, at the Menie Estate near Balmedie, which is earmarked for the development he says will be the best in the world.

But Trump says he will pull out if he does not get approval for 1,400 houses which form part of the proposals and are vital for him getting some return.

He also claimed the area, some of which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, will be better off environmentally after work is completed than it is now.

Mr Trump said: "The course will be extremely expensive to build and the housing is needed in order to get at least some of my money back. I have to build the houses - the golf itself would not sustain a project of this magnitude."

So will he lose money? "It's possible. We will know at the end of ten years. But ... I could lose a great deal of money."

Would he walk away if the housing is not approved? "I would have no choice. It would be so far underwater that it would have no chance of success."

He said the project could be done more cheaply, but for his sensitive approach to the environment: "It would cost a lot less money if we didn't care about the environment, but we care a great deal."

Mr Trump flew into Aberdeen on Sunday for just his second visit to the area and the first since council planners gave their backing to project. He denied the visit was prompted by an ill-tempered public meeting on the plans last month and said it was a coincidence that Aberdeenshire Council is due to discuss his application on 30 October.

Business leaders back the proposal and planning officials say the economic benefits and the tourism potential will outweigh potential damage to the protected site on the coast.

But environmentalists have condemned the proposals. Groups including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and RSPB Scotland have objected, claiming the plan will seriously damage a nationally important nature conservation site and sand-dune habitats. Some locals fear the resort will be a "gated community for the super-rich" and that the project is being steamrollered through by Mr Trump's PR machine.

The man himself, however, is confident everyone will be "on board" eventually: "Often, I will have resistance, but those people who have resisted, in the end, fall in love with the project. Critics give me good reviews because what I do is, I think, very special. That is what I'm looking to do for this part of the world, a part of the world that is very important to me because of the fact my mother was born here."

If approved, work will start by January. If the application is turned down, he doubts he would appeal and would take his plans to another country.

But Trump believes a rejection would be a great loss for the area, adding: "The right thing to do would be to approve it because we are stabilising the land, the environment will be much superior when we are finished, and the economic development aspects of the job are far beyond anything probably proposed here for many, many years."

He admitted the courses may not open all year. "We will need to see what the demand is to play golf in January."

Mickey Foote, from the pressure group Sustainable Aberdeenshire, said Mr Trump's visit was designed to "turn the heat on the council" at this month's meeting. He said: "It's definitely designed to put pressure on the councillors. Everything he's asked for is outside the local plan and the amount of housing he is after would grab the entire allocation for housing in this area.

"We need housing in this area for local people, but he would gobble it all up in this one development and no other houses would be built, while those built in his development would not be bought by locals. So tell me where the economic benefit is to this region?

"He said this project is all about golf, but really it starts with golf and ends with housing."

MIXED RECEPTION FROM BUSINESS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

DONALD Trump plans a 1 billion golf resort at the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire. It will include two 18-hole golf courses, a 450-bed hotel, 950 holiday homes, 36 luxury golf villas, a conference centre, spa, golf academy and 500 luxury houses.

It is claimed the project will boost the region by 50 million and bring 12 million to the rest of Scotland.

Business leaders have urged Aberdeenshire Council to approve the proposals and send out a positive message about the region.

But the Scottish Wildlife Trust says the plan disregards the impact the development will have on one of the top five dune habitats in Britain.

It is claimed a third of the natural heritage features of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) would be destroyed.

Scottish Natural Heritage, while not against the plan in principle, says a single golf course could fit on adjacent land in the development without significant impact on the habitats.

The agency said: "As the development of a golf course on this location would cause such significant damage to the SSSI and the dunes to the south of it we have submitted an objection to this part of the proposal.

"SSSIs are established to protect the most important 10-12 per cent of Scotland's natural heritage and our duty is to have regard for that on behalf of all of Scotland's people."

SNH said rare plants such as adder's tongue, curved sedge, intermediate wintergreen and sand fescue, could be lost from the site.

MIXED RECEPTION FROM BUSINESS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

DONALD Trump plans a 1 billion golf resort at the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire, which will include two 18-hole golf courses, a 450-bed hotel, 950 holiday homes, 36 luxury golf villas, a conference centre, spa, golf academy and 500 luxury houses.

It is claimed the project will boost the region by 50 million and bring 12 million to the rest of Scotland.

Business leaders have urged Aberdeenshire Council to approve the proposals and send out a positive message about the region.

But the Scottish Wildlife Trust says the plan disregards the impact the development will have on one of the top five dune habitats in Britain

and say a third of the natural heritage features of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) would be destroyed.

The agency said: "As the development of a golf course on this location would cause such significant damage to the SSSI and dunes to the south of it we have submitted an objection."

"SSSIs are established to protect the most important 10-12 per cent of Scotland's natural heritage and our duty is to have regard for that on behalf of all of Scotland's people."

SNH said rare plants such as adder's tongue, right, and curved sedge, could be lost from the site.

 
 
 

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