A PETITION calling for a public inquiry into the handling of Donald Trump’s controversial golf project on the North Sea coast has attracted more than 11,000 signatures, exceeding its organisers’ expectations.
David Milne, an opponent of the scheme at Menie, north of Aberdeen, said he had hoped for 2,000 signatures. The petition is being lodged at the Scottish Parliament today, two weeks earlier than planned.
Mr Milne said: “There’s clearly a growing appetite to get to the bottom of this fiasco, and to make sure no other community anywhere in Scotland ever has to face down the combination of a bullying developer and officials determined to see them get their way.
“This is not a party political matter – it’s a systematic failure. At Holyrood and locally we have seen successive administrations of various colours cosy up to Mr Trump.
“It is now up to the MSPs who sit on the Public Petitions Committee to choose: do they want to find out what went wrong and ensure it never does again, or do they want to guarantee the whole story is never even told.
“I am confident that they will listen to the public and do the right thing, and I look forward to having an opportunity to discuss these issues with them in person.”
Mr Milne, a 48-year-old independent health and safety consultant who lives near Trump’s golf complex, claims that some bodies, including Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Government, were involved in breaches of planning regulations before Mr Trump was given the green light to construct his links course.
If Mr Milne’s petition is successful, it would see a comprehensive inquiry established into local and national government involvement with the Trump organisation. The timescale would cover former first minister Jack McConnell’s Labour-led Scottish Executive, Alex Salmond’s SNP government and Aberdeenshire Council, which was controlled at the time by Liberal Democrats.
Earlier he said: “We have had to be patient to get to this stage, but we are calling for a full public inquiry into what happened and we want the full facts to emerge. Now, we are hoping that many other Scots will share our concerns over the background to how Trump was allowed to build this course.”
The planning application for the golf complex was initially rejected by a local authority committee, causing turmoil among councillors, and was controversially called in by the Scottish Government.
The First Minister became MSP for the area in 2007. The plan was subsequently rubber-stamped by the council, then approved by Finance Secretary John Swinney in November 2008.
No-one from the Trump organisation responded to phone calls last night. However, last month Sarah Malone, the executive vice-president of Trump International, spoke about the petition.
She said: “The project has already gone through years of scrutiny and debate during a lengthy planning process, including a public inquiry in the full media spotlight. Mr Milne needs to move on. He attempted this before and it failed, because there is no basis for it.
“The championship course is now established and drawing thousands of golfers from around the world and creating business opportunities and much-needed jobs.”
Trump is now locked in a heated battle to stop an offshore wind farm being built within sight of his golf course.
A planning application for the wind farm was submitted to Marine Scotland – which manages Scotland’s seas – in August 2011 for the development just over a mile away from Trump’s golf resort at Menie.
Trump said £100 million hotel development is on hold until the decision on whether the nearby 11-turbine offshore wind farm proposal is approved is made.