Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 16:36 UK

Council backing Trump at inquiry

Menie Estate
The future of the Menie sand dunes is being considered by ministers

Aberdeenshire councillors have voted to support Donald Trump's application for a 1bn golf resort when it comes before a public inquiry.

A group of councillors called on the council to stick by the original committee decision to refuse the application.

They warned the position could be open to legal challenge under planning law.

However members were told the decision to refuse had been overtaken by the Scottish Government calling it in.

Minister defended

Meanwhile, MSPs heard claims First Minister Alex Salmond acted at the behest of Mr Trump during the handling of the application.

Labour MSP Duncan McNeil said: "Cynics might say - Trump said jump, the First Minister of Scotland said, how high?"

He made the charge when he opened a Holyrood debate on the affair.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson rose to defend Mr Salmond, who he said was busy dealing with the potential strike action at the Grangemouth oil refinery.

June inquiry

He said: "Ministers and officials have at all times acted properly, objectively and in full accordance with planning legislation, the Scottish Ministerial Code and all other requirements."

Scottish Government ministers decided to have the final say on the application after it was narrowly rejected by the council committee.

A public inquiry is to be held in June into the golf resort application.

The tycoon's plans involve two championship golf courses, 950 holiday homes, 36 golf villas and 500 private homes.

Environmental groups and local campaigners criticised the project, while many leading business figures backed it.


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