Trump’s Spat With Salmond Over Scottish Wind Turbines Escalates

April 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Donald Trump hailed Alex Salmond as
an “amazing man” for championing the financial benefits of his
golf resort in northeast Scotland. Now the two are at
loggerheads over the linchpin of the Scottish leader’s economic
policy as he strives to gain independence from the U.K.

The New York real-estate entrepreneur will tomorrow tell
lawmakers at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh about his
opposition to a proposed 230 million-pound ($371 million)
experimental offshore wind farm in sight of the golf course he
is opening in July. Trump’s warnings about the effect of the
wind energy industry on tourism aren’t borne out by the facts,
according to the government.

“I am very disappointed with him, these wind turbines will
destroy Scotland,” Trump said in a telephone interview on April
19. “Other countries are stopping building them. Alex is 20
years behind the curve.”

Salmond aims to make Scotland the hub of European wind
power as part of a strategy to generate the equivalent of all of
the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and
underpin an independent Scottish economy. A referendum on
leaving the U.K. is planned for 2014.

The semi-autonomous government in Edinburgh, run by Salmond
since 2007, predicts the industry, which includes wave and tidal
power, might create as many as 28,000 jobs. It said it could
boost the Scottish economy by 7.1 billion pounds, or about 5
percent of current gross domestic product, by that year.

Agree to Differ

“I’m afraid Donald Trump and I are destined to disagree on
this matter,” Salmond, 57, said in an April 18 interview in his
official residence in Edinburgh. “It would probably be best to
allow energy policy of the country to be determined by the
people who are democratically elected to determine it.”

The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, a venture
between Vattenfall AB, Technip SA and Aberdeen Renewable Energy
Group, applied in August for planning consent to build 11 next-
generation offshore wind turbines in Aberdeen Bay. The turbines
are 195 meters (640 feet) high to the tip of the blade and will
be 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) out at sea, according to David
Rodger, a spokesman for the venture.

The 65-year-old Trump identified his site at Balmedie,
north of Aberdeen, as a potential 750 million-pound golf resort
in 2005 and battled for almost three years to gain consent to
build two courses, a 450-bed five-star hotel, 500 homes and 950
short-term rental apartments.

Gaining Consent

Trump bought the 1,400 acre (567 hectare) Menie estate,
which is in Salmond’s electoral district, in March 2006. His
planning application was rejected by Aberdeenshire Council in
November 2007, six months after Salmond’s Scottish National
Party
won elections and its first term in power. Finance
Secretary John Swinney overturned that decision in December 2008
because of “significant economic and social benefits.”

Everything apart from the main golf course was put on hold
in January pending the decision on the wind farm, which is also
opposed by Royal Aberdeen Golf Club and the Scottish Golf Union.

“Trump has obviously got an agenda,” Jonny Clark, an
Edinburgh-based director of the WSP Future Energy consultancy,
whose clients are involved in renewable energy, said by
telephone yesterday. “There don’t seem to be any statistics to
support his claim that wind farms are damaging tourism.”

‘Mad Alex’

In a series of letters this year addressed to Salmond and
sent to news organizations, Trump said Scotland’s first minister
is in danger of becoming “Mad Alex” who turns Scotland into a
third-world economy by building “monstrous” turbines and
destroying tourism. Salmond won a second term last year, this
time with an overall majority in the Edinburgh legislature.

Trump told the British Broadcasting Corp. in a January 2008
interview that Salmond was a person “who believes strongly in
Scotland and he wants economic development in Scotland.”

Scotland is the windiest country in Europe and could have
about a quarter of Europe’s offshore turbine capacity, according
to the government. Commercial farms will be sited further out to
sea and won’t be visible from the mainland, Salmond said.

“The demonstrator plant is about consolidating the
northeast of Scotland’s position as an energy capital of the
world,” Salmond said. “Frankly I don’t think 11 turbines off
shore is a difficult proposition for most people to accept.”

Public opinion supports the principle of wind farms, while
preferring other forms of renewable energy.

Pollster YouGov published two polls on April 23. One
survey, commissioned by Scottish Renewables, found that more
than 70 percent of people in Scotland supported the continued
development of wind power as part of a mix of renewable and
conventional methods of electricity generation.

Sea, Not Wind

The other poll, on behalf of Friends of the Earth, showed
that 32 percent of Scots favor tidal and wave power as their
first choice for future energy, almost twice as many as the 18
percent that have wind power as their first choice. Solar power
is the top choice for 17 percent.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that global demand
for wind turbines will be 14 percent lower this year than in
2010 and won’t surpass 2011 levels for another two years as
governments cut subsidies. Installations increased 5 percent in
2010 and 2011 combined, compared with annual growth of 36
percent between 2005 and 2009, according to the research.

Doosan Power Systems Ltd., a unit of South Korea’s biggest
equipment maker, announced it was scrapping a 170 million-pound
plan to develop offshore wind turbines in Scotland because of
concern over the European economy.

Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA, Spain’s biggest turbine maker,
said last month it would build a 150 million-euro ($196 million)
wind hub in Edinburgh, while Samsung Heavy Industries Co. is
planning a 100 million-pound project for its 7-megawatt machine.

“Wind turbines will destroy one of the great environments
of the world,” Trump said in the interview last week. He will
appear at the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee in the
Scottish Parliament tomorrow morning. “It is a very, very
dangerous time for Scotland,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Peter Woodifield in Edinburgh at
pwoodifield@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Rodney Jefferson at
r.jefferson@bloomberg.net

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