DONALD Trump sparked renewed outrage yesterday when he compared the development of wind farms in Scotland to the Lockerbie disaster.
On Tuesday, the billionaire tycoon announced that the Trump Organisation would be turning its back on Scotland and concentrating on developing a new course on the Republic of Ireland’s Atlantic coast.
The announcement came after Trump lost his legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s decision to give the go-ahead to an offshore wind farm in Aberdeen Bay which he claims will blight the view from his luxury golf resort at Menie, on the Aberdeenshire coast.
But yesterday, Trump sparked an angry backlash after renewing his attack on green energy schemes in Scotland in an interview with the Irish Times.
He told the newspaper: “Wind farms are a disaster for Scotland, like Pan Am 103. They make people sick with the continuous noise. They’re an abomination and are only sustained with government subsidy. Scotland is in the middle of a revolution against wind farms. People don’t want them near their homes, ruining property values.”
All 259 passengers and crew on board Pan Am Flight 103 and 11 residents of Lockerbie were killed when the Boeing 747 plunged from the skies over Dumfries and Galloway on 21 December, 1988, when the plane was destroyed by a terrorist bomb.
Trump’s outburst was condemned by MSPs and relatives of the victims.
Susan Cohen, a New Jersey pensioner whose daughter Theodora, an aspiring actress, was 20 when she was killed in the disaster, said: “Obviously, there is no call for that. Donald Trump says many, many things here in the United States and I am, of course, appreciative of anyone who takes a tough stand on Lockerbie which he did at times.
“But, at the same time, I think that is an unfortunate choice of words. I wish he had not made that comparison. Lockerbie was a ghastly tragedy that destroyed many lives and is beyond comparison. It is one of the great and terrible events of man’s inhumanity to man and therefore it’s of an order where it should not be likened to anything.”
Joan McAlpine, the SNP MSP for the South of Scotland, claimed: “Even by Donald Trump’s standards, these comments are unbelievably crass and show a complete lack of respect to the families affected by the Lockerbie bombing – in the US, Scotland and across the world. He should withdraw them as a matter of urgency and apologise for any offence he has caused.”
Alison Johnstone, a Green Party MSP for the Lothians and member of Holyrood’s economy, energy and tourism committee, also hit out at the tycoon’s remarks. She said: “It’s grossly offensive to link renewables with the Lockerbie bombing. Mr Trump has already been reprimanded by advertising authorities for making such distasteful statements and he should apologise for his continued crass behaviour.” Ms Johnstone added: “He didn’t have a shred of evidence that renewables are bad for tourism when he was quizzed in parliament. Twelve-thousand people are now employed in renewables in Scotland, proving that Mr Trump knows nothing about the Scottish economy.”
In December 2012, Trump was accused of “sinking to a new low” and being “sick” for publishing an advert in Scottish newspapers which linked the government’s support of wind farms with the decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.
The Scottish Green Party lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority over the controversial advert, published in two regional newspapers and urging the public to protest against First Minister Alex Salmond’s support for renewable energy.
Under the banner “Is this the future for Scotland?” the advert featured a picture of a huge wind farm in California and a photograph of the First Minister.
It stated: “Tourism will suffer and the beauty of your country is in jeopardy! This is the same mind that backed the release of terrorist al-Megrahi ‘for humane reasons’ – after he ruthlessly killed 270 people on Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie.”
The advert was condemned as “misleading” by the Advertising Standards Authority.
In his interview, Trump boasted of bringing the “Trump factor” to Ireland following his organisation’s decision to buy the Doonbeg golf club in County Clare – the 16th golf club in his portfolio and first Trump Hotel Collection property in Ireland.
The resort was placed in receivership last month.
The Trump Organisation is said to have paid £12.3 million for the 400-acre resort, which includes a links course designed by Greg Norman, the former Open champion. The Doonbeg resort is to be renamed the Trump International Golf Links Ireland.
He said of Doonbeg: “It’s a very special piece of land on the Atlantic. A lot wanted it, but we will do a better job.”
Trump was not available for interview yesterday. But he tweeted: “My sons Don and Eric are right now at Doonbeg in Ireland. There will be nothing like it! The people of Ireland have been so great about my purchase of Doonbeg – I’ll be there soon.”
David Milne: ‘Grandiose words seem to have failed Trump this time’
IT was with some surprise that I read about the purchase of Doonbeg estate, in County Clare, Ireland, by the Trump Organisation and that surprise was only increased by the similarity of his comments to those he made only a few short years ago in relation to the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.
I would, as most people who know the story would expect, voice a word of caution at the “good news”.
Promises and words are easy, fulfilling them is sometimes a harder task, as the Trump Organisation has seen here in Scotland.
Unfortunately, some politicians, the servants of the people, seem to have failed to recognise that grandiose claims do not always lead to great outcomes.
Words have been used by Mr Trump on many occasions to accuse others of impropriety and inappropriate behaviour, with little in the way of evidence to support his claims. Having read the Court of Session decision by Lord Doherty, he obviously came to a similar conclusion about the evidence supplied by Mr Trump in that situation.
Unfortunately, grandiose words seem to have failed Mr Trump this time and his use of the Lockerbie bombing in comparison to wind turbines is not acceptable.
To diminish the suffering of the families of that event by trying to compare an international terrorist event that killed people of several nationalities with an attempt to protect and extend the environment of our planet is insensitive and ill considered. I am certain even some of his own supporters back in the USA will be shocked.
I would recommend that Ireland does its due diligence in this case.
• David Milne, a long-standing opponent of the Trump resort, was one of the four homeowners on the Menie Estate who lived with the threat of compulsory purchase for two years when the sites of their properties were included in the approved masterplan for the American tycoon’s golf complex.