Scot­land puts crimp in Trump’s golf vi­sion

Windsor Star - - NEWS - AMANDA ERICK­SON

In 2006, busi­ness­man and re­al­ity TV star Don­ald Trump bought an 1,800-acre es­tate in Scot­land’s north­east, near Aberdeen. It was beau­ti­ful, with views of the North Sea and sur­round­ing sand dunes.

Then he an­nounced plans to build a golf course. In true Trump style, he promised the world. He en­vi­sioned a grand com­plex with two world-class golf cour­ses, a lux­ury ho­tel and 1,450 homes on the prop­erty. It would be, he said, a US$1.5 bil­lion in­vest­ment.

But then came a string of set­backs: The 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis roiled Trump’s busi­nesses. The lo­cal plan­ning com­mis­sion called his pro­posal “ex­tremely im­plau­si­ble” and re­fused to sup­port it. Re­cal­ci­trant neigh­bours would not sur­ren­der their land.

Even­tu­ally, though, the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion broke ground.

So far, the Trump In­ter­na­tional Golf Links com­plex hasn’t lived up to Trump’s vi­sion. There is only one golf course, which by many ac­counts is rarely busy. In­stead of a ho­tel and pricey stretch of homes, there’s a sin­gle club­house with a few rooms for rent. Cor­po­rate fil­ings in Bri­tain show that the course lost US$1.8 mil­lion in 2015.

Ex­perts say that to make se­ri­ous money, Trump needs the ho­tel and de­vel­op­ments he promised. But it’s been hard to get those projects launched.

This week, the Scottish En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Agency and Scottish Nat­u­ral Her­itage, a con­ser­va­tion agency, made things even harder. Both groups are ob­ject­ing to the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s ex­pan­sion plan un­less sig­nif­i­cant changes are made. Of­fi­cials say the cur­rent plan breaches strict rules on sewage, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and ground­wa­ter con­ser­va­tion.

Their con­cerns are myr­iad. SNH says there is “sub­stan­tial risk” that sig­nif­i­cant parts of the course could be dam­aged by drift­ing dunes, which hap­pened at Trump’s al­ready­built course in Scot­land — Turn­berry, on the west coast — in 2016. SEPA ob­jects to the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s use of a “soak­away” (ba­si­cally, a pit filled with rub­ble) to dis­pose of waste­water, and it wants the com­pany to connect the course and club­house to the pub­lic sewage sys­tem be­fore build­ing the sec­ond course. The agency also wor­ries that the cur­rent ir­ri­ga­tion plan could con­tam­i­nate lo­cal water sup­plies.

Lo­cal of­fi­cials also want Trump to make good on his prom­ise to build hun­dreds of af­ford­able hous­ing units and a school.

Ac­cord­ing to Eric Trump, tasked with over­see­ing the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion while his father serves as pres­i­dent, things are mov­ing along.

“We have huge plans for fu­ture in­vest­ment he told Scot­land’s The Press and Jour­nal.

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