Donald Trump hires top lawyer for wind farm battle

April 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

• Donald Trump hires one of Scotland’s top planning lawyers to contest Scottish Government’s decision to give go-ahead to wind farm proposal close to tycoon’s Menie golf course

• Gordon Steele QC appointed as Trump vows to do “whatever it takes” to block construction of Aberdeen Bay turbine scheme

• Trump claims he would never have gone ahead with golf course plans had it not been for assuracances from Alex Salmond and former First Minister Lord McConnell

The Trump Organisation is expected to lodge a legal challenge against the Government’s ruling at the Court of Session in Edinburgh next month. It is understood that the tycoon’s organisation will be seeking a judicial review of the decision to give the green light to the development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay, close to the tycoon’s Menie estate.

The Trump Organisation today announced that Gordon Steele QC, one of Scotland’s leading counsel on planning issues, is to lead Trump’s team at the Court of Session, assisted by advocate Alasdair Burnet.

And a spokeswoman for the Trump Organisation said: “A writ setting forth the detail of the legal argument against the Scottish Government’s decision will be filed in the Court of Session by mid May.”

Last month a furious Trump vowed to spend “whatever it takes” to block the construction of the 640ft-tall 11-turbine scheme in Aberdeen Bay, which he claims is standing in the way of completing his planned £750 million golf resort development on the stretch of coast where he has created the “greatest golf course in the world”.

The US billionaire said: “We will put our future plans in Aberdeen on hold, as will many others, until this ridiculous proposal is defeated. Likewise, we will be bringing a lawsuit within the allocated period of time to stop what will definitely be the destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself.

“This was a purely political decision as dictated by Alex Salmond, a man whose obsession with obsolete wind technology will destroy the magnificence and beauty of Scotland. Likewise, tourism, Scotland’s biggest industry, will be ruined.”

George Sorial, the executive vice president and counsel to the Trump Organisation said: “The time for discussion, negotiation or compromise is over and we look forward to taking this fight into a forum that’s unbiased and free from political influence.”

Last year, the billionaire tycoon told The Scotsman he would have walked away from investing in the Menie estate had he not been given “assurances” by both former Labour first minister Jack McConnell and First Minister Alex Salmond that the wind farm – within one and a half miles of his championship golf course – would never be built

Mr Sorial claimed today: “Mr Salmond assured us that the EOWDC proposal would never proceed and his Government will be scrutinised for this misguided decision which was made without a public inquiry just 24 hours after the recommendation was issued by Marine Scotland – an unprecedented action from a notoriously slow planning system.”

Mr Sorial continued: Mr Salmond will be held accountable for misleading us and the process behind this approval will not survive legal challenge.”

He added: “We remain committed to our golf development in Scotland and our efforts will persist for as long as necessary to ensure that (wind farm developer) Vattenfall’s reprehensible facility is never built in Aberdeen Bay.”

A Trump Organisation spokeswoman said: “Mr Steele and his team will be instructed by Ann Faulds, a partner and head of planning at Dundas and Wilson.

“John Campbell QC and his veteran legal team will continue to represent the Trump Organisation with its ongoing objection to the EOWDC substation facility proposed for Blackdog, Aberdeenshire.

“The Trump Organisation will proceed with a separate judicial challenge should the Formartine area committee of Aberdeenshire Council approve that application which is scheduled to be heard later this month.”

Gordon Steele QC, a law graduate of Aberdeen University, has been an advocate since 1981 and took silk as a QC in 1996. He was chairman of the Scottish Planning Local Government and Environmental Bar Group from 2002 to 2012.

According to his chambers’ website he is “noted by market observers for his tenacious brand of advocacy.”

The EOWDC – a £230million experimental offshore wind farm development – will stretch from Aberdeen to an area off Blackdog, an estimated mile and a half from the Menie links. The scheme is aimed at providing enough power for more than 49,000 homes – almost half the houses in Aberdeen.

It is being spearheaded by Swedish company Vattenfall – Europe’s sixth-largest generator of electricity – together with the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (Areg), and engineering company Technip Offshore Wind. The cutting-edge project is a demonstration facility for next generation wind turbines, which could herald massive investment in Scotland’s renewables infrastructure and drive Scotland’s offshore wind energy ambitions.

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