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Trump - 'between you and me I'm going to get it'

DONALD Trump has blundered into yet another row over his plans to build a £1 billion golf resort in Scotland, by confidently boasting: "I'm going to get it."

The American billionaire made his prediction despite the plan being called in by the Scottish Government for an independent review.

The timing will not be welcomed by Alex Salmond, the First Minister, who is still battling claims that his government has been rolling over for the tycoon.

John Swinney, the finance secretary, called in the planning application after a council committee originally rejected it. Mr Salmond was also criticised by a parliamentary committee for meeting Trump advisers a day earlier. Mr Trump's comments, which appear in the latest issue of Vanity Fair magazine, confirmed his shoot-from-the-lip approach.

He said: "If Jack Nicklaus tried to do this, he'd have zero chance, but they like what I've done, and because I am who I am and my mother is Scottish. Between you and me, I'm going to get it."

His comments were criticised by campaigners fighting his scheme, who accused Trump of being arrogant and again trying to bluster his way through the planning process.

Under his proposals, which will come under the microscope at a three-week public inquiry starting on 10 June, two golf courses, a five-star 450-room hotel, 950 holiday homes, 36 golf villas and 500 homes would be built, partly on a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), on the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire.

In his interview, carried out over the past few months with journalist Alex Shoumatoff, Mr Trump did himself no favours when he revealed he was not sure what an SSSI is.

He said: "The dunes are considered to be SSSI, which means scientifically important something and that you sort of can't touch them.

"It's like going in and ripping down a landmark building in New York, but I'm going to build a world-class golf course in the dunes and another 18 holes on the property, plus a tremendous hotel with 450 rooms, 500 homes, 950 condos and 36 golf villas."

The tycoon further cemented the stereotype of a forthright-speaking American with his dismissive views about global warming, saying that at least it might help overcome the North-east of Scotland's famous sea fog – the haar.

"Well, maybe global warming, which I don't necessarily believe in, at least the human part, is going to take care of the bad weather," he said. Trump could not resist attacking one of his most long-standing opponents, Michael Forbes, who owns adjoining land, and has refused to sell up.

"Forbes is a wise guy, and now that he's become well known because he's fighting Trump, he's playing it up to the hilt," the businessman said.

"His property is a mess and I would like him to clean it up, but it's in the flatland behind the dunes, and my approvals have nothing to do with it. I own 100 per cent of what I need to own.

"There are people on the outskirts making noise because it's me, unfortunately, but between you and me, Alex, Forbes is making my land more valuable."

Mr Forbes said he was unconcerned about Mr Trump's latest outburst. "At least I got under his skin," he said. "He came to Scotland and thought he could buy us all up. These latest comments are just typical of his arrogant personality, and I would be surprised if they had any real basis.

"In fact, I think the inquiry will decide the other way and he will lose."

There has been concern about the way the application has received special treatment since it was first rejected by Aberdeenshire Council's infrastructure committee. The majority of the Scottish Parliament's local government committee was highly critical of the way the Scottish Government took the unprecedented step of calling in the application last December, when Trump insisted he would not appeal and started talking about taking up an option in Northern Ireland.

It also said Mr Salmond had acted "extremely unwisely" by meeting Trump's representatives in his capacity as the constituency MSP the day before and helping to arrange a meeting with Scotland's chief planner, Jim Mackinnon.

David McLetchie, a Conservative MSP who is on the local government committee, said: "It's no surprise Donald Trump thinks his development is a shoo-in for approval, given that the SNP government pulled out all the legal stops to keep it alive in light of his refusal to follow the normal appeal process. Donald Trump is a gambler, but this time he is backing a racing certainty."

Lib Dem councillor Martin Ford, who lost his position as Aberdeenshire Council's infrastructure committee convener for using his casting vote to throw out the Trump application, was also concerned.

"It is immaterial in planning law where your mother was born or how wealthy you are or what your character is like," he said. "I find it very disturbing that Mr Trump is so confident on which way the decision will go before the inquiry has even begun. I only hope his certainty is misplaced and not based on what went on before."

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said he believed Trump's comments only reflected his arrogance. "I have complete confidence the inquiry will be open and fair," he said. "This is just an reflection of Trump's arrogance. I think the title Vanity Fair says it all."

But he went on: "The comments certainly do not help restore the confidence that has been lost in the planning process in Scotland through the way the government has already treated the application. It will embarrass ministers, and they should distance themselves from them."

Mickey Foote, from Sustainable Aberdeenshire, the campaign group leading the fight against the project, said: "You can see why Mr Trump might think that, but I think we just need to let the due process take its proper course."

A source close to the First Minister denied the comments had caused any embarrassment.

"These comments were made five or six months ago, long before it was decided the application would go to a public inquiry, so the situation has changed quite dramatically," he said. "We have no control over what Mr Trump says and, of course, he is entitled to his opinion, but that's all it is.

"It certainly does not embarrass the First Minister."

A spokesman for the Scottish Government insisted that the public inquiry would examine all the issues in an "efficient, transparent and inclusive" way.

I'm a genius, says the billionaire champion of self-promotion

BILLIONAIRE Donald Trump has never been shy about letting the world know about his wealth and the power that comes with it.

And in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, the leading American society magazine, Mr Trump is at it again.

He is certainly not known for holding back when it comes to promoting the Trump brand and he does not disappoint.

Although he has been through a high-profile divorce from his former wife Ivana, made a fortune, lost it and then made a fortune again and had his own TV shows, including the original version of The Apprentice, he does not hold back when discussing his views with journalist Alex Shoumatoff, a friend and golf partner.

Mr Trump declared: "This is the greatest writer in America. He's doing a cover story on me for Vanity Fair. I've been on it twice before. But they want me again. They can't have enough of me. Do you think they're going to put me on the cover?"

In fact Mr Trump has only appeared once on the magazine's cover, in 1994, with his second wife, Marla Maples, and their child Tiffany. He has lost the cover this time round to pop star Madonna.

He compares himself favourably with the most successful golfer of all time Jack Nicklaus, claiming that the Golden Bear, who also has a less controversial golf resort proposal in the North-east of Scotland, would not have been able to get Mr Trump's 1 billion Menie estate application through.

His theory is that it all comes down to personal energy and seems to believe that it is transmitted through the genes.

He explained: "I know smart people who don't have energy, and if you don't have energy, it's hard to compete. My son Barron has incredible energy. You know why? Because his father is a f***ing genius.

"My father had tremendous energy, and my mother had tremendous promotional skills, even though she was a homemaker. You're born with energy. It's not something you're ever going to be able to develop."

To many people, especially in reserved Britain, his brash comments attract derision.

However, even though it makes him enemies, it is this huge confidence and skill at self-publicity that has made businesses in the North-east back his golf resort plans.

At a recent meeting of the Scottish Parliament's economy, energy and tourism committee, held in Aberdeen as part of its inquiry into tourism, Peter Medley, of the Aberdeen Hotels Association, said that Mr Trump's ability to publicise himself combined with his golf resort would put Aberdeenshire on the map.

Many people in the North-east of Scotland appear to have embraced him.

One poll carried out in the region gave him 80 per cent support.

 
 
 

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