Trump was 'lured' by Scottish First Ministers25/04/2012 - 15:34:43
Donald Trump has complained he was “lured” into investing in Scotland by two First Ministers.
The US businessman said he was assured by Alex Salmond and Jack McConnell before him that an offshore wind turbine development would not be built near his golf resort on the Aberdeenshire coast.
Both politicians deny they gave assurances.
But Mr Trump said: “What they did is they lured me in. I spent this money and now I might regret it.
“I think other people that want to invest in Scotland are watching me, and they’re watching what happened and I think they’re going to say, ’We’re not going to invest in Scotland’.”
Mr Trump made the comments in a dramatic appearance before a Scottish Parliament committee probing the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets.
In a series of exchanges, Mr Trump warned that the drive for wind farms will “destroy” tourism, claimed climate change is not man-made and said Scottish renewable targets are “phoney”.
He claimed to be an expert on tourism and opinion polls, and rejected suggestions that he was using opposition to the offshore development as a face-saving exercise to pull out.
Despite being asked to discuss the SNP administration’s energy targets, Mr Trump repeatedly focused on his fight to stop an 11-turbine offshore test centre in Aberdeen Bay.
Asked to point to evidence that wind farms will destroy tourism, Mr Trump declared: “I am the evidence.”
The flamboyant businessman also strayed away from the energy theme by bringing the Lockerbie bomber into the discussion, saying terminally-ill Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was seen “running in a park” last week.
In his opening address on energy targets, he told MSPs: “This is a very, very serious problem that we are addressing.
“In my opinion, it is one of the most serious problems that Scotland will have or has had.”
He offered support to technologies such as wind and wave, but warned: “Wind turbines, made in China, are going to be the destruction – almost a total destruction – of your tourism industry.”
The Scottish Government wants renewable energy sources to meet the existing demand for electricity by 2020.
Mr Trump said Scotland is 20 years behind other nations, adding: “Many countries have decided they don’t want wind, because it doesn’t work without massive subsidies, it kills massive amounts of birds and wildlife, and there are lots of other reasons.
“It’s a very inefficient form of energy, it’s an energy that when you need it most you don’t get it because the wind isn’t blowing when you need it most.”
He claimed the subsidies needed to back wind power developments were “enormous” and that Scotland will be “broke” if the UK removes financial support.
On his own investment, Mr Trump said the money would have been spent in Ireland if he had known turbines could be built one mile from his resort.
“If you remember – and there was a big hoopla – I was going to go and I was going to build in Ireland, because of the fact that the wind farm was going to be built fairly near our course in Scotland,” he told the committee.
He told MSPs that Mr McConnell said it will not be built because of Ministry of Defence interests in the area and shipping lanes near Aberdeen harbour.
He added: “It was very prevalent for a short period of time and then it totally disappeared. Based on that – nothing in writing, but based on that – I decided I’ll go forward.”
Mr Trump said Mr Salmond, who became First Minister in May 2007, had also “poo-pooed” the wind farm development.
He added: “Now I’ve invested tens of millions of pounds, I’ve completed my site ahead of schedule. I’ve built something that even my enemies say is the most spectacular.
“After I’ve invested this tremendous amount of money, all of a sudden this really obnoxious and ugly wind farm appears – which is worse than a wind farm because there is going to be all these different looking windmills.
“It’s going to look like Disneyland – except a bad version of Disneyland.”
Mr Trump said he “felt betrayed” because he had invested his money because of statements that had been made to him.
He later elaborated on the “assurances” from Mr Salmond, saying he was invited to a dinner in New York where he was “strongly led to believe” there would be no wind farm.
But Mr Salmond, who was in London today, said: “It’s stuff and nonsense. There has never been such an assurance.”
Widening his complaint to national energy targets, Mr Trump told Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee: “If you pursue this goal of these monsters all over Scotland, Scotland will go broke. As sure as you’re sitting there, Scotland will go broke.
“They are being subsidised massively right now by the UK and without that subsidy, if the UK decided they are not going to further subsidise all these windmills, Scotland will go broke.”
He said the 2020 target is “absolutely ridiculous”, adding: “China, where you buy your unattractive industrial wind turbines, is decimating the atmosphere.
“Here you are, destroying the financial well-being of Scotland in order to meet phoney and totally random CO2 targets.”
He also accused the SNP of failing to give the facts about renewable energy in the run-up to the Scottish election, which the party won with an unprecedented majority.
Mr Trump said: “This is the same thinking that gave you Megrahi, where they let him out of prison because he’d be dead within two weeks.
“Well, guess what, he was seen running in the park last week. This is the exact same thing.”
Mr Trump’s executive vice president, George Sorial, also took part in the committee hearing. He questioned the democratic right to implement renewable energy policy.
He said: “Just because you were democratically elected doesn’t mean you have a right to unilaterally and just carte blanche impose all your policies on your people.”
Following the meeting, the Trump entourage – including son Donald junior - walked from the Parliament into a demonstration of pro and anti wind farm groups.
To chants of “there’s only one Donald Trump” and “Trump out”, Mr Trump shook hands with supporters as he made his way, flanked by police, to a waiting car.
Following the committee meeting, Mr Trump was criticised by partner firms behind the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) - the development near his golf course.
Spokesman David Rodger said: “If the EOWDC does not go ahead it puts at risk the development of Scotland’s, the UK’s and Europe’s ambitions for low-cost energy from offshore wind and a £7bn (€8.57bn) boost to the UK economy.
“It will also prove a major missed economic opportunity for the north-east of Scotland as EOWDC could become a world centre of innovation for the fast-growing global offshore wind industry.
“There has been a great deal of interest in the project and the benefits it will bring to the offshore wind sector and the north east economy.
“We have been greatly encouraged by the level of support being shown not only for the project but the renewable energy industry generally.
“There is room for both developments. We call on the Trump Organisation to set the green standard for sustainable sport in an Olympic year by building the greenest golf resort in the world.
“The north east of Scotland is an ideal place to do this – after all, both the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group’s expertise and an excellent green energy resource are on the doorstep of the Menie estate.”
Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “By bellowing ’I am the evidence’, Mr Trump blew his chance to show some credibility.
“He underlined his denial of climate change and trotted out tired old myths, including his own fictional approval rating.
“It’s time to ask exactly who this arrogant bully thinks he is. He really needs to learn how to behave in other people’s countries.”
Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Tackling climate change and creating meaningful and sustainable jobs are the two key challenges for this generation – renewable energy is one of the few ways we can do both.
“It’s unfortunate that the hugely complex debate on how Scotland maximises the economic and environmental benefits from renewables has been over-shadowed by the focus on today’s witnesses.”
Stan Blackley, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “A rich, overseas reality TV star should not be allowed to dictate the future of Scotland’s energy policy and economic recovery, both of which will rely heavily on the transition to a renewable energy-powered future for Scotland in the coming years.”
Dr Dan Barlow, of environment group WWF Scotland, said: “Donald Trump’s appearance before the Scottish Parliament has further exposed just how off the mark his anti-wind energy tirade is.
“His responses were riddled with factual errors and unsubstantiated claims, and he revealed his complete disregard for Scotland to play any part in tackling climate change.”
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