Donald Trump: 'If anyone else had tried to build a £1bn golf resort, they'd have got an easier ride'

DONALD Trump yesterday claimed his status as a celebrity and the world's best-known tycoon had prevented him getting speedy approval for his ambitious plan to build the world's greatest golf resort in Scotland.

He also boasted that he was one of only a few entrepreneurs around the globe who had the ability to develop the spectacular links at the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire into a 1 billion boost to the Scottish economy.

And he made it clear that only the best would satisfy his lofty ambitions for the environmentally sensitive site.

Giving evidence on the first day of the public inquiry into the controversial development, he told Scottish Government planning reporters: "I am either going to do the greatest course or not. In the US, we have an expression, 'half-assed' – let's do it properly."

Trump, the first witness called, yesterday spent more than three hours giving evidence at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.

He was closely questioned by his former nemesis, Martin Ford, the local councillor who was sacked from his post as chairman of Aberdeenshire Council's planning authority for using his casting vote to block the massive leisure and housing scheme.

He was challenged by Mr Ford over his refusal to compromise on the decision to build part of the main championship course on a protected site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

Trump said: "If you want to have something great in this community – approve it. If you want to have something mediocre, build a golf course off the dunes that nobody will use, nobody will ever play and, frankly, nobody will write or care about – except maybe you."

He also insisted his development would lead to the site being "magnificently maintained".

And he said he walked on the site on the eve of the inquiry and that the ground was littered with dead birds and refuse: "There is rubbish on the site, there's dumping. The site is a total mess.

"If we get approval you won't have that. When you walk on the site now, it's disgusting."

Asked by John Agnew, for Sustainable Aberdeenshire, if he had not felt compelled to clear the mess up, Trump replied: "We are doing it all the time. But people sneak on to the site and dump things."

Later at a press conference, the star of American television's The Apprentice said: "If somebody else had applied, they would have gotten it a lot easier than me.

"The celebrity and all of this media and craziness is probably a liability for me. But it's an asset for the area and for Scotland. Everybody is talking about this course all over the world."

Trump also claimed he had the award-winning green credentials to prove he was a guardian of the environment.

He told the inquiry: "I have received many environmental accolades and awards and I consider myself an environmentalist in the true sense of the word. I believe this will be a course that will be significantly environmentally enhanced when it is completed.

"The environment will benefit. The plant life – the habitat life – every aspect of life will be preserved and enhanced.

"Right now, that site is a killing field and they kill 25,000 birds a year. When I build this course, they won't be killing any birds."

Trump repeatedly insisted that the ecology of the area would benefit from the development, which opponents claim will destroy a unique stretch of Scotland's coastline.

He added: "The environmental benefits outweigh any negatives.

"But when you add the economics into the equation, it's not even a contest."

Trump later said: "I am shocked to be here because I thought I would be building the course by now. It was a fluke that we lost (the council vote].

"It's unfortunate, but often I find great things take more time. This is one of those examples."