Trump clashes with Scottish government after wind farm blow

Donald Trump during a visit to the construction site of his golf course on Dec 16, 2015.
Donald Trump during a visit to the construction site of his golf course on Dec 16, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (Reuters) - US Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump clashed with Scotland's political leaders on Wednesday (Dec 16) after Britain's supreme court threw out his bid to stop a wind farm being built near his luxury Scottish golf course.

A day after battling with rival candidates in a Republican national security debate, the business tycoon entered a war of words with lawmakers in his mother's homeland after losing his fight to block the building of 11 offshore turbines near his multi-million dollar resort.

In a statement, the Trump Organization denounced the Scottish government as "foolish, small minded and parochial", while the Scottish National Party's (SNP) foreign affairs spokesman Alex Salmond replied that Trump was "three times a loser".

The spat comes after a week when Trump's call to deny Muslims entry to the United States was major news across the Atlantic, and led to his being stripped of two Scottish honorary positions and prompted a record petition calling for him to be banned from Britain.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron called the remarks "stupid". "If he came to visit our country, I think he'd unite us all against him," the British leader told parliament.

The row centres on plans to build a wind farm off Blackdog in Aberdeenshire on Scotland's north-eastern coast, which Trump believes will spoil the view from his golf complex just 3.5 km away.

Scotland's SNP-run government overturned environmental and other local objections to approve the golf course in 2010, the first phase of a 750 million pound (S$1.59 billion) project.

But three years later it approved the turbines, saying the US$350 million (S$493.47 million) scheme would boost the local economy and power thousands of homes.

Since then, the once-harmonious relations between Trump, who speaks proudly of being half-Scottish and whose Gaelic-speaking mother hailed from Stornoway on the northern Isle of Lewis, and Scotland's political elite have turned sour.

"FOOLISH, SMALL-MINDED"

The tycoon could barely disguise his contempt after Britain's Supreme Court unanimously rejected his lawyers'argument that the decision to approve the wind farm scheme had been flawed.

"History will judge those involved unfavourably and the outcome demonstrates the foolish, small minded and parochial mentality which dominates the current Scottish Government's dangerous experiment with wind energy," the Trump Organization said in a statement.

The statement said the turbine project was "nothing more than delusional posturing" that would destroy "the bucolic Aberdeen Bay" and cause great damage to local tourism and Scotland's economic future.

However, the comments drew a sharp response from Salmond, Scotland's former First Minister, in office when the decision was made and a campaigner for Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom for more than 30 years.

"His behaviour and comments are unlikely to attract the votes of many Mexican Americans or Muslim Americans," Salmond said. "Given his treatment of Scotland, Scots American are likely to join the ever growing list of people alienated by Trump."

Describing Trump as "three times a loser", Salmond said the business tycoon had failed to deliver on the jobs and billions of dollars of investment his golf complex had promised.

He also said outspoken comments on Muslims and Mexican immigrants would mean Turnberry, another Scottish golf course which Trump has bought and is refurbishing at a cost of 200 million pounds, would never be considered to host the British Open tournament.

As the argument grew increasingly personal, Trump's group retorted that Salmond was a "has-been and totally irrelevant".

Although all legal avenues in Britain are exhausted, Trump hinted that the row was not over and recourse to European Courts was a possibility.

"We will evaluate the Court's decision and continue to fight this proposal on every possible front," the Trump Organization statement said.