Scottish ministers have given the go-ahead to an experimental offshore windfarm site near Aberdeen after ignoring Donald Trump’s angry threats of legal action to block the project.
Trump has repeatedly attacked the European offshore wind deployment centre (EOWDC) proposal, alleging the turbines will ruin the view from his £750m golf resort, which overlooks the North Sea and sits several kilometres north of the site’s boundary.
The billionaire property magnate again threatened to use his financial muscle to oppose the 11-turbine project in the courts using “every legal means” to defeat it. Despite recently announcing plans to build a second 18-hole golf course at his resort, he repeated his threat to put his entire project on hold because the windfarm threatened the financial viability of his resort.
In a statement, the developer attacked his former friend and ally Alex Salmond, the first minister. “This was a purely political decision,” Trump said.
“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. We will spend whatever monies are necessary to see to it that these huge and unsightly industrial wind turbines are never constructed.
“All over the world they are being abandoned, but in Scotland they are being built. 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.”
Fergus Ewing, the Scottish energy minister, said the £230m project would be capable of generating up to 100MW of power, enough for nearly half of Aberdeen’s homes.
But he added that the project was chiefly designed to test and evaluate advanced new offshore wind power designs, potentially helping to find new breakthrough technologies. Scottish and UK ministers, who also support the project, believe it could be crucial to helping the UK exploit the £100bn offshore wind industry.
The 11 turbines, which have been reduced in number and location after objections from fisheries and aviation interests, are expected to be of different heights and designs. The project, owned by the Swedish power giant Vattenfall and a local business and university consortium, still needs marine consents and planning consent for an onshore sub-station.
Ewing said: “Offshore renewables represent a huge opportunity for Scotland; an opportunity to build up new industries and to deliver on our ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction targets.
“The proposed European offshore wind deployment centre will give the industry the ability to test and demonstrate new technologies in order to accelerate its growth. [It] secures Aberdeen’s place as the energy capital of Europe.”
The scheme has been made subject to a series of fresh conditions, to protect defence and civil aviation radar systems, avoid a military firing range at Black Dog, on environmental management and on protecting shipping and fishing in the area.
Trump’s opposition to the project led to open hostilities between him and Salmond, who had originally been a prominent cheerleader for Trump’s golf resort and hotel development and played a crucial role in it securing planning approval.
Trump’s attacks on Salmond’s vigorous support for wind power have put the two men in direct conflict and also soured Trump’s relationships with some of his most influential supporters in Aberdeen.
Several major figures and institutions who supported Trump’s resort – the North Sea engineering millionaire Sir Ian Wood, Robert Gordon University and Aberdeenshire council – are also directly involved in the EOWDC project.
They believe it could substantially support Aberdeen’s attempts to benefit from the billions of pounds being spent on renewable energy investment, particularly as an alternative to North Sea oil and gas.
Iain Todd, a spokesman for the project, made this clear, stating: “The Scottish government’s most welcome approval for the EOWDC is extremely positive news for both Scotland and the UK’s offshore wind industry as it helps position Scotland, the UK and Europe at the global vanguard of the sector.
“The decision also confirms Aberdeen city and shire’s status as a world-class energy hub, bringing with it significant economic benefits which will be pivotal to ensuring the region’s long-term prosperity.”
Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Offshore wind will be a huge part of our energy future and this scheme is a big step forward.
“Well done to the Scottish government for standing up to Donald Trump’s threats and bluster.”