Sabotage: vandals trash Donald Trump golf resort

CONTROVERSY over Donald Trump's planned Aberdeenshire golf resort has taken a sinister new twist after the site was hit by vandals in a £50,000 wrecking spree.

• Tycoon Donald Trump has seen opposition from locals to his 1bn dream course. Picture: PA

Newly planted grass has been ripped out, fences torn down, diggers damaged and thousands of litres of diesel fuel contaminated.

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Trump International Scotland, which is masterminding the 1 billion development on the Menie Estate, north of Aberdeen, said: "There's been a pattern of mischief on the site."

Executive vice-president Sarah Malone said: "These are deliberate, appalling acts of vandalism that have taken part on environmentally sensitive areas of the estate."

The damage, which was found on Monday but not announced until yesterday, covered nearly 11,000sq ft of marram grass and 500ft of fencing.

The grass was pulled out from an area which will form the 15th green, which is the responsibility of head greenkeeper Paul O'Connor. Fencing bordering it was also pulled down.

A day before, two JCB diggers were wrenched open and wires ripped out, while their batteries were removed and sand was poured into their engines

More than 3,000 litres of diesel was also rendered useless by being contaminated with what is thought to be sugar.

The sabotage comes weeks after six acres of grass and dune land caught fire from an abandoned barbecue. It is not known if this was an accident.

Mr Trump is embroiled in a furious row with residents, some of whom are threatened with eviction if their homes are compulsorily purchased.

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But a public relations expert warned Mr Trump not to further alienate locals by blaming them for the vandalism.

John Macgill, of the Edinburgh-based policy consultancy Morhamburn, said the Trump organisation should be careful about how it handled the attack. He said: "The temptation might be to use this incident to try to undermine local opponents by suggesting it's their work, that they're out of control and willing to go to any lengths to stop the development.

"But Trump is in this for the long haul, and my guess is he'll be well enough advised to take it on the chin and say it'sout of keeping with the way local people would behave."

David Milne, one of the threatened householders, said: "This is shocking. Some people have said to me they wouldn't be surprised if something like this sort of thing was my next move.

"But I am completely opposed to any sort of vandalism and act that is against the law. The biggest vandal at Menie is the Trump Organisation."

Rob Merson, councillor for the area, said: "These attacks would appear to be deliberate attempts to sabotage the scheme. They were deliberate, planned and concerted."

However, Ms Malone said: "It is a disgrace there are people around us who are prepared to stoop to such callous acts of vandalism and the destruction of our environment.

"Our aim is to enhance and develop the site, while others seem intent upon destroying it. I am sure the people of Aberdeenshire will be disgusted by this.

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"I can assure you that such acts of vandalism will not deter us from continuing to develop the site to a world-class standard."

A police spokeswoman said: "We are investigating a number of incidents at the site which saw plant equipment damaged and grass uprooted."

Mr Trump plans to build the "best golf course in the world" on the sand dunes of the estate at Balmedie in Aberdeenshire.

He won permission to build two courses, a hotel, 950 holiday homes, 500 houses and a clubhouse.

But the scheme has been dogged by controversy. It was initially rejected by an Aberdeenshire Council committee, but later approved by the Scottish Government.