Two-thirds of people oppose Trump but Alex Salmond still backs resort

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THE First Minister reaffirmed his support for Donald Trump's controversial golf resort yesterday, as a poll showed a majority of Scots are now opposed to it.

The survey, commissioned by the Green Party, put public opinion at almost two to one against the complex at the Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire.

Mr Trump has claimed that opinion polls show 93 per cent support for his project, which features two golf courses, a hotel, clubhouse, 950 holiday homes and 500 houses.

But the Angus Reid poll for the Greens interviewed 1,001 adults from across Scotland and showed 64 per cent against and 36 per cent in favour.

The results were released as Green MSP Patrick Harvie visited the home of Molly Forbes, 86, who has challenged Mr Trump and Aberdeenshire Council in court over the plan. She fears she will lose her home to make way for the resort.

Mr Harvie said Mrs Forbes and others living at Menie have become reluctant local heroes.

He said: "Increasingly, people are taking a very simple view on this. They see a bullying billionaire bent on throwing vulnerable local residents from their own homes and on trashing this extraordinary environment. Mr Trump must lift the threat of eviction he has left hanging over these families – it is causing extraordinary suffering."

The question posed to people taking part in the survey was: "Donald Trump is planning a luxury golf resort which his company says would bring jobs to Aberdeenshire, but his plans would require evicting local residents who do not wish to sell, and building on protected land. Do you support this project?"

The Scotsman yesterday put the same question to Alex Salmond. A spokeswoman for the First Minister said: "Mr Salmond's views are clear and on the record. Ministers agree with the public inquiry conclusion that there are significant economic and social benefits to be gained from the application by Trump International Golf Links Scotland to develop a golf resort at Balmedie."

Mr Harvie's party is contesting the Gordon constituency, which takes in Mr Trump's land. Green candidate Sue Edwards said: "These figures continue a trend – the more people have learned of Donald Trump's plans and his methods, the more unpopular his scheme has become.

"The Trump Organisation should now publicly announce that it has abandoned any intention of seeking to use compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) against residents."

She said the figures built on polling last year which showed almost three-quarters of Scots were opposed to using CPOs to help Mr Trump to force local people from their homes.

Sarah Malone, the executive vice-president of Trump International Scotland, said: "We are not concerned about this poll. We have a population of millions and everyone is entitled to their opinion. But they should judge the project once it's completed. The benefits it will bring will be immeasurable."

RESERVE PLANS

A NEW nature reserve is to be created on a 150-hectare site on the Galloway coast.

RSPB Scotland is buying an area of saltmarsh and floodplain on the west coast of Wigtown Bay, which is a crucial winter site for tens of thousands of wildfowl and wading birds.

Scottish Natural Heritage has provided 200,000 towards the cost, and RSPB Scotland now has to raise an additional 525,000. Whooper swans, pink-footed geese, golden plovers, above, twite and dunlin can all be seen at the site.