Trump remains on course for new golf centre

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The Independent Online

Fresh from ending his campaign to oust Barack Obama, US billionaire Donald Trump flew in to Aberdeen yesterday to check on the progress of another typically outlandish project.

After succumbing to the realisation that he will never become leader of the free world, Mr Trump's controversial £750m plan to create the "world's greatest golf resort" in the sand dunes of Scotland's east coast is now facing difficulty.

Mr Trump had originally planned to build a £750m golf complex, complete with a luxury hotel, a golf academy and timeshare apartments. But when asked yesterday where on the site he planned to build the complex accompanying the course, he said: "Where's the market?"

"When I originally bought this site, the market was perceived as being very good. The world has taken lots of turns and twists... everything we do is dependent on market conditions."

The next three days will see Mr Trump approve the final shape of the course's 18 holes, which are expected to open on the Menie Estate next summer. Mr Trump yesterday declared he wanted actor Sir Sean Connery and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond to open the course.

But on disembarking from his Boeing 757 airliner, Mr Trump stepped back into a major environmental row that has dogged the project from the beginning. The Scottish Wildlife Trust has said the course will destroy the natural ecosystem of an area certified as a site of special scientific interest and the determined Tripping Up Trump campaign continues to oppose the course.

Residents such as farmer Michael Forbes have steadfastly refused to sell their properties, arguing the course will be a white elephant and can only damage the community. Last week, a new film protesting at the project, You've Been Trumped, also belied Mr Trump's assertion that the movie was a "failure" by winning an award at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival. However, others have welcomed the investment, which will boost the economy with a 450-room hotel, 950 holiday apartments and 500 residential homes.

Yesterday, Mr Trump was unbowed by questions about ethics, maintaining the course would be of benefit to wildlife.

* Donald Trump, who already owns four golf courses in the US – including one in Los Angeles – plays the game regularly himself. He claims to have a low handicap of four.