I care about the environment, says Trump (and not just the greens)

Donald Trump wants to create the world's finest golf course on an unspoilt stretch of northern Scotland. Merely creating a "world class" course would not be good enough; it has to be better than the Old Course at St Andrews, he claimed yesterday.

The US billionaire was giving evidence at the opening day of a public inquiry into his plan to develop a site that includes sand dunes that are home to a rich variety of wildlife, on the Menie estate near Aberdeen. Mr Trump presented himself as an ecologically concerned entrepreneur, but when he described himself as "an environmentalist", the reaction from the public gallery was so loud that the inquiry chairman, James McCulloch, demanded silence.

Mr Trump claimed his golf course was more likely to improve the local environment than damage it. He suggested the site was not very attractive in its present condition, though he agreed that it had the potential to be one of the finest sites in the world.

"There are dead birds, there are animals lying over the site which have been shot. Maybe some people are into that – I'm not," he said. The whole site looked "pretty desolate", he claimed. He added: "Before, no one knew what it was. Now they are saying: 'Menie, it's the greatest'."

David Tyldesley, of the RSPB, suggested Mr Trump's original vision had been to create a "world class course" but not necessarily the world's best. But Mr Trump replied: "Let me make it clear so we can perhaps save some time. I am looking to build the finest golf course in the world if given the chance to do it."

Mr Tyldesley said: "I don't doubt that it's an aspiration but can I put it to you that it is only a recent aspiration in order to justify the use of a Site of Special Scientific Interest." Mr Trump retorted: "That is absolutely false – the moment I saw the site I thought it had the potential to be the greatest golf course in the world."

But Mr Trump was none too encouraging when asked whether families would still be able to visit the site after it had been turned into a golf course. "You don't want to be sitting with your family getting smashed by a golf ball," he said. And he added: "In the US we have the expression 'half-assed'. Let's do it properly."

The proposed £1bn development was turned down by the council in Aberdeenshire, on the casting vote of a Liberal Democrat councillor, but it has the backing of Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, who says it will bring jobs to the area.

Mr Trump is well known to American audiences as the progenitor of the NBC reality show The Apprentice, the US forerunner of its British counterpart. He is proposing to construct two golf courses, 900 timeshare apartments, a 450-bed hotel and 500 luxury homes. One of the courses would be on the Foveran Links, a stretch of sand dunes which is home to a variety of wildlife including skylarks, kittiwakes, badgers and otters.

Many local business and tourist agencies are in favour of the development, and Mr Trump has warned that rejecting it would be a "very bad signal" to anyone thinking of investing in Scotland. But environmentalists have objected. Michael Forbes, a local fisherman, turned down the Trump Organisation's offer of £350,000 to sell his family's run-down farm in the centre of the estate.

The inquiry is expected to last between three and four weeks.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor