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Archive for December 14th, 2007

Donald Trump wants to build a massive golf course resort north of Aberdeen.    The golf courses would also involve a big hotel and a few hundred houses to pay for it.     The trouble is that the site is environmentally important.   To cut a very very long story short, Aberdeen Council threw out the plans on the casting vote of the Planning Committee Chairman.     Normal procedure from that point would have been for Trump to appeal, and after that for the Government to call it in for determination.    What actually happened was that the Planning Committee Chairman was sacked and the decision has been reversed.   

It is not good.    Elected representatives should be allowed to get on with their job, and the democratic process respected.   The project would have been called in by the Govermment in any case, and Trump should have been more patient instead of throwing his rattle out of the pram and threatening to decamp to Northern Ireland.    There are also accusations of sleaze by MSPs interfering behind the scenes.    And one law for the Trumps of this world and one for the rest of us is not a good way forward.

Having said that, this application should never have got to the point of entrenched positions.    Faults on both sides I think, and Trump appears to have been riding roughshod over some local opinion to get what he wants.    There should have been more allowances made for local views, and planning compromises offered.

Compare the project at St Andrews Bay, where new golf courses and a big hotel have been built.    This did not need to rely on hundreds of houses to make it work, and was a ‘pure investment’ in golf.    So why couldn’t Trump do a similar project at Aberdeen?   

The Trump golf course development is one that Scotland and Aberdeen in particular really needs, although the location is perhaps a bit remote and prone to haar off the North Sea.    It is good news that the project has been called in, and hopefully it will be given the green light, but quite appalling for local democracy.    How the MSPs come out of it remains to be seen.

And of course, there is the scruffy farmer holding out against a Trump takeover from the middle of what will be two golf courses, despite being offered a generous sum to move  – but that’s a whole other story.

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