A NUMBER of public bodies in Scotland are to face claims they acted with “impropriety” over US tycoon Donald Trump’s golf resort in the North-east.
Holyrood’s public petitions committee was told yesterday councillors were “lobbied” by backers of the controversial development – in breach of strict planning rules – and that police in the area were biased in favour of the plans.
MSPs are now calling on several organisations to answer concerns over their involvement in the Trump development after taking evidence from local resident David Milne, who has remained at his home in the Menie estate, despite the resort.
Mr Milne also appeared in the award-winning You’ve Been Trumped documentary, which followed the £750 million scheme’s journey to completion amid clashes with protesters. He revealed 19,000 people have signed a petition backing calls for a public inquiry into the process.
“That’s 19,000 people who recognise the international disgrace that the events at Menie have become,” he said.
Mr Milne said a public inquiry would get to the bottom of the way the planning process, dating back to 2007, was handled by the authorities.
“It’s a request about good governance, about the way planning rules are set and managed – about the way the relationship between officials and developers are kept within appropriate bounds,” he said.
Councillors in Aberdeenshire rejected the scheme in 2007, but this decision was overturned by the Scottish Government after being “called in” by ministers – the first time this had happened.
Aberdeenshire councillor Paul Johnston, also giving evidence to MSPs, said he had not previously experienced “overt lobbying” from other councillors over a planning application. “I can attest that an attempt to lobby was done and we need a public inquiry to get to the bottom of this.”
Nationalist MSP John Wilson said the behaviour of a number of public bodies had been called into question by Mr Milne and the petition.
“The organisations – which include Aberdeenshire Council, Scottish Natural Heritage, Marine Scotland and Grampian Police, now the new Scottish police service – have been named today as organisations which overstepped the bounds or acted with impropriety,” he said. “MSPs have agreed to write to the bodies asking them to respond to the claims and have kept the petition open.”