The billionaire Donald Trump last week clashed with protesters opposed to his controversial plans to build the "world's greatest golf course" near Aberdeen. Quarry worker Michael Forbes, who is refusing to sell his property which adjoins the £750m scheme, claims Mr Trump's workers unlawfully annexed his land.
The clash is the latest skirmish in an increasingly bitter battle to prevent Mr Trump from developing the site. More than 7,000 local people have signed up to join the "bunker", co-owners of an acre of land sold by Mr Forbes to disrupt the US tycoon's plans. The philanthropist and co-founder of the Body Shop Gordon Roddick and Green MP Caroline Lucas are the latest to join the campaign.
Mr Forbes, 57, says Trump International drove earth-moving equipment on to the land he claims is his last week and erected a boundary fence. He said they moved equipment belonging to him and dumped it close by.
Trump denies acting unlawfully and insists the land is legally its to develop. "The land belongs to Trump International," a spokeswoman said. "Michael Forbes was notified well in advance that a fence would be erected to demarcate our boundary. He was given three weeks to clear the abandoned machinery and other disused items. As a result of his failure to reclaim the materials, the items were moved several metres on to his land."
Mr Forbes has been the fiercest and most vocal opponent to the development plans in an attempt to protect the property where he lives with his 85-year-old mother.
Mr Trump has allegedly called him an "idiot" and his property a "pigsty". Mr Forbes was charged with theft last month after being accused of removing flags erected to mark the boundaries of the Trump land.
Mr Forbes is backed by protest group Tripping Up Trump (TUT) which is opposing plans to build two world-class golf courses, a 450-bed hotel, 950 apartments and 500 houses. TUT said the land invasion highlighted the "motives of a very aggressive man who is committed to intimidating families until he gets what he wants – their homes and land," spokesman Martin Clegg said.
"It is time to draw a line in the sand and not let the bully boys ride roughshod over decent people," Mr Roddick said. And Ms Lucas urged the community to stand strong. "When confronted by a developer like Trump who thinks it is OK to trample over anything and anyone that gets in his way, it is important to fight back," she said. "I am joining with others to get in the way of an incredibly damaging vanity project. I hope to send a very clear message to Donald Trump – this community is not giving in."
Development has already begun on the site, which stretches along the sensitive sand dunes of Balmedie Beach in north-east Scotland. Mr Trump has gained partial approval but a fierce fight is expected over five pending development applications. Mr Trump wants compulsory purchase orders to be used to remove landowners.
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