Trump alters golf resort plan 'in response to green protests'

DONALD Trump has made his first apparent concession over controversial plans to build his £1 billion golf and housing resort on an environmentally sensitive stretch of the Aberdeenshire coast line, it emerged yesterday.

The Trump organisation has submitted what have been described as "indicative" plans for a revised layout of the championship course, which would be laid out on part of a protected site of special scientific interest (SSSI) – the issue at the heart of environmental objections to the scheme.

The tycoon's organisation claims the changes have been made in response to concerns about the course's impact on the protected sand dunes at the Menie estate site.

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But objectors yesterday dismissed the revised layout as a token gesture and a "small-scale tweak" to the original plans. The back nine holes of the championship course would still be laid out on the SSSI site, but in a different configuration.

George Sorial, the Trump executive in charge of the development, said last night: "We have previously stated 90 per cent of the SSSI will remain untouched by our development and this remains the case.

"Our amended indicative plans demonstrate we have significantly reduced the amount of stabilisation required, therefore reducing the impact on the SSSI.

"We intend to explain each detail concerning our submission and will respond to any questions during the public local inquiry."

The SSSI covers 203 hectares. The Trump organisation revealed earlier this year that the original plan would involve 20 hectares of dunes being stabilised, using indigenous marron grass, while 183 hectares of the site would be left alone.

The organisation has refused to give any details of the changes to the area of sand dunes which will now be affected by the revised layout.

A letter from Colin Bell, an official at the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals, sent to the various parties at the Menie inquiry, states: "It appears to (the inquiry reporters] that the new layout differs materially from the previous one, and that this may have implications for the environmental effects assessed in the environmental statement and supporting documents."

Last night, however, environmental campaigners insisted that while the revised plan included a change in the layout of some of the holes on the golf course, there would only be a "marginal reduction" in the area of sand dunes which will have to be stabilised to help form the course.

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A spokesman for RSPB Scotland said: "We think this amendment is merely a small tweak to try and change our position on the fact that we have always said we are not happy with any development on the SSSI.

"This alteration doesn't change that situation."