In the long running clean energy battle between bagpipes and a blowhard, the legal wrangling is heating up. At dispute is Scotland’s goal to become energy independent with the help of renewables, especially wind power, as it seeks total independence from the United Kingdom. In the Scottish government’s way is Donald Trump, who claims his investments in golf courses and resorts have added up to hundreds of millions of dollars. Scottish leaders claim wind energy will help the country move forward on sustainable development. The Donald says emphasis on wind power will ruin the economy.
The dispute dates back to 2006 when Trump purchased 1,400 acres outside of Aberdeen with plans to build a $1.2 billion resort. Meanwhile the Scottish government, led by Alex Salmond, approved an offshore wind farm despite what Trump has said were assurances that no such project would exist within view of his development. The warm relations between Salmond, who had green-lighted Trump’s original plans despite local opposition, and The Donald, quickly turned sour last year as the dispute over the offshore wind farm led to a war of words.
Now the lawyers are in on the fray. According to NPR, Trump has sued to halt the construction of 11 massive wind turbines in the Aberdeen Bay, 1.5 miles out to sea. Trump claims the sight of the turbines will blight the local scenery and hurt business at his latest resort. The conflict has become fiercely personal, and Trump has made his hatred of wind turbines clear by bringing up some of the old familiar complaints: they kill birds, are made in China, are too expensive—and “are a disaster for the environment,” as quoted during a recent visit to Scotland. As a result, Trump has said he may scuttle plans to build a large resort hotel. The damage has already been done, however, as the documentary You’ve Been Trumped has demonstrated. Trump’s Scotland projects have led to the intimidation of homeowners who refused to leave their land and spoilt the once pristine local coastline.
Scotland may be close to the fossil fuel-rich North Sea, but the current Nationalist government in Scotland views green energy as key to complete independence. The goals are certainly ambitious: by 2020, the Salmond administration says it wants Scotland running on 100 percent green energy. But even The Guardian, hardly an apologist for Trump, has pointed out such lofty targets will be difficult to reach. Severin Carrell, a Guardian correspondent who covers Scotland, wrote earlier this year that a fully independent Scotland would have trouble raising the billions needed to meet the 2020 target because much of the monies used to build Scotland’s green energy infrastructure comes from utility customers across the UK. Carrell also pointed out in a May article how tensions between London and Edinburgh have increased: the UK’s current energy secretary said subsidies for wind power would disappear if Scotland votes for independence. Salmond responded that an independent Scotland would simply refuse to pay its share of the UK’s debt.
Meanwhile Scotland’s push for renewables marches on, independent or not: current polling shows the majority of Scots lean against independence. Politics aside, the local World Wildlife Fund chapter has welcomed the Aberdeen wind farm, stating Trump’s opposition was mere “bluster” and dismissed his claims the turbines would kill marine life. Watch for the chapter to grow stronger as Trump, hardly one to defend the environment, keeps making wildlife and economic claims faster than he can pull a comb-over.
Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
[Image credit: Trump International Golf Links]