European Tour

Bad blood over golf course stalks Trump's Scotland trip

2018-07-13 07:21
Donald Trump (Getty Images)

Edinburgh - Discord over a golf course dating back over a decade means there is little love lost between Donald Trump and the pro-independence government in Scotland, where he will be teeing off over the weekend during his visit to Britain.

Trump, whose mother was from Scotland, is expected to stay at his luxury golf resort at Turnberry.

Most of the controversy has centred on his other course, known as Trump International Golf Links.

In the run-up to his first visit as US president, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been celebrating the construction of a wind farm that the billionaire tycoon tried to stop because it spoiled the view from his resort.

"A famous golf course owner from America who, I think, has now turned his hand to politics, decided to take the Scottish government to court to try to block these wind turbines," the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader said as the first turbine was switched on last week.

"The Scottish government beat that American golf course owner in court... and these amazing wind turbines generated their first electricity," she said.

Sturgeon has refused to meet Trump on his visit but has resisted pressure from some Scottish lawmakers to deny him landing rights at Glasgow's Prestwick Airport.

He will be greeted by Scottish Secretary David Mundell, from the British Government, when he arrives north of the border on Friday.

For someone who claims extraordinary negotiation skills, Trump's forays into Scottish tourism and politics over the years have had mixed results.

He bought 1 400 acres (567 hectares) of land near Aberdeen in 2006 and promised to build "the world's best golf course".

The proposal was welcomed by former first minister Jack McConnell - who named Trump a "Global Scot" business ambassador in 2006 shortly before his Labour Party lost power to the SNP.

But local councillors rejected the plan amid fierce opposition from conservationists and neighbouring residents.

The SNP government overturned the councillors' decision shortly after golf-loving nationalist Alex Salmond took control, kicking off a short and tempestuous bromance with Trump who called Salmond "an amazing man".

However, the relationship cooled when Trump's promise to create 6 000 jobs and invest £1 billion failed to materialise, and Trump began interfering with the SNP's flagship plan to make Scotland a renewable energy powerhouse.

The Trump Organisation has spent around £100 million on the course, known as Trump International Golf Links, and employed around 650 temporary and permanent staff - but the company insists the resort remains a work in progress.

Three years later Trump visited the Scottish Parliament to complain about plans to build 11 "ugly" offshore wind turbines near his newly minted Aberdeenshire resort, insisting the development would do "terrible damage" to Scottish tourism.

Trump declared "I am the evidence" when Scottish lawmakers asked him to back up his assertion that the wind farm would "destroy the financial wellbeing of Scotland".

Six years on, overseas visitors to Scotland have increased by nearly a quarter and renewable energy now powers over two-thirds of Scottish homes and rising.

Trump threatened to pull all of his investment in Scotland if the wind farm went ahead - but bought another golf course instead.

With dramatic timing, Trump came to Scotland to open his second golf resort at Turnberry on June 24, 2016 - the day after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Protests are expected across Scotland over the weekend, including at his golf courses as well as at Glasgow's George Square and in the capital, Edinburgh.

Demonstrators rallied for Trump's arrival in Britain Thursday, massing at several sites he visited, ahead of a mass protest expected to draw thousands on Friday.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  golf
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