Donald Trump said he could leave the United States if he loses the White House to Joe Biden next month. If so, he’s just been given the perfect place to get through his final days – playing golf on a new course in Aberdeenshire, his second in the area.
However, if Trump chooses such an option, he can expect a strong welcome from environmentalists. They say last week’s decision by Aberdeenshire council planners to approve the course could have a catastrophic impact on the area̵
Trump International Golf Links Scotland built a course on the Menie Estate, north of Aberdeen, in 2012, and its construction was accused of severely damaging the spectacular dune system of nearby Foveran Links, an official site of special scientific interest ( SSSI).
As a result, conservation experts had urged the Aberdeenshire council to refuse planning permission for the second golf course in Menie that Trump had asked to build. But in September last year, local councilors ignored their warnings and recommended giving the proposal the green light.
Since then, activists had urged the Aberdeenshire council planning service to overturn that decision, but on Friday it announced it had decided to move forward and grant full planning permission for the new course. He said the new course “will contribute to the significant social and economic benefits that should be provided by the broader development proposals within the Menie estate.”
This optimism is not shared by environmentalists. They say the decision means Foveran’s SSSI status – given due to its unusual quicksand and diverse plant life – will need to be removed entirely in the coming months.
“This decision gives the green light to the Trump organization to further vandalize and destroy Scotland’s natural heritage,” said Bob Ward, director of policy at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. “The Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Government have ignored Scottish natural heritage objections to potential further damage to the world-renowned sand dunes which should be protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but which have already been partially destroyed by the construction of the first golf course. “
The new 18-hole course will be known as the MacLeod Course in honor of Trump’s mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, who was born and raised on the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides before emigrating to New York. The route will be built south and west of the original one.
Trump originally got approval for his “Trump estate” which included the protected dunes because he pledged to create up to 6,000 jobs by building a five-star hotel with 450 rooms, shops, a sports complex, timeshare apartments, two golf courses and residential complexes. However, he has so far built only one 18-hole course, open seven months a year, a driving range and a small clubhouse with restaurant and shop; he also transformed Menie’s manor house into a 16-room boutique hotel.
With just over two weeks to election day, the chances of Trump spending more time on his golf courses appear to be increasing. His Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, leads by 17 points in the latest Opinium search /Guardian poll. Over 18 million votes have already been cast.
In addition to being a leader in national opinion polls, Biden is also consistently ahead in a number of crucial states. Last week he even won the ratings war – more Americans tuned in to see his question and answer session on ABC than Trump’s version on NBC.
Aberdeenshire residents could see Trump soon, win or lose. According to www.trumpgolfcount.com, Trump has played more rounds of golf as president than any other White House resident. He visited his golf clubs 280 times during his presidency, playing 140 occasions.