Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Monday, 3 November 2008

Trump's 1bn golf resort approved

Donald Trump
Mr Trump's plans have caused two years of division

Donald Trump has said he is "greatly honoured" his 1bn golf resort plan in Aberdeenshire has been approved, but opponents expressed disappointment.

US tycoon Mr Trump's plan to build two golf courses, as well as hundreds of homes, at Menie has caused business and environmental division for two years.

The plan was called in by the Scottish Government after it was rejected by an Aberdeenshire Council committee.

Finance Secretary John Swinney has backed it after a public local inquiry.

First Minister Alex Salmond also hailed the news, citing 6,000 possible jobs.

Donald Trump on the golf resort decision

However, opponents of the project, such as RSPB Scotland, were angry at the news. Mr Swinney said outline planning permission was being granted - and that the significant economic and social benefit of the project was a major consideration in his decision.

He said the Trump Organisation would need to make sure sand dunes and wildlife on the estate at Menie were properly protected.

Mr Swinney has also ordered that no more than 500 private homes be built.

'Greatest course'

Mr Trump said: "We are greatly honoured by the positive decision and believe that the people of Scotland will be extremely happy with the final product.

"It will be a tremendous asset and source of pride for both Aberdeenshire and Scotland for many generations.

"I would like to personally thank the thousands of people and organisations who have supported us throughout this process. As I have often said, because of the quality of the land we are given to work with, we will build the greatest golf course in the world."

The sand dunes in the area have been the focus of concern

Many business leaders have backed the plans.

However, groups including Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB Scotland opposed the project due to Mr Trump's plans to build part of a course on sensitive sand dunes.

Welcoming the decision, Aberdeenshire Council leader Anne Robertson said: "I truly believe a development of this type will bring significant benefits to the area, particularly in terms of jobs and tourism.

"Before the development can proceed further applications, which contain the full details of all of the elements of the proposal, will have to be submitted to, and approved by, Aberdeenshire Council."

Ken Massie, VisitScotland's regional director for Aberdeen and Grampian, said: "We welcome the decision as the development will make a significant impact on the economy."

'Precious wildlife'

Martin Ford, the Aberdeenshire councillor whose casting vote originally saw Mr Trump's plans rejected, told BBC Scotland: "I am very disappointed, it sets a very bad precedent."

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: "The fact that this project has been approved in its entirety demonstrates a blatant disregard for the legal protections these dunes are under.

"We can only hope that the current economic crisis tears a hole in his business plan, and that he fails to get the money he needs to fund the project. Even the credit crunch must surely have a silver lining."

Environment should always win over business
Tom, Exeter

Rob Ashlin of the Sustainable Aberdeenshire group, which opposed the development, said: "I think this is a damning verdict.

"Donald Trump is not just planning a recreational facility, it is a huge housing development that goes against Aberdeenshire Council's planning policy.

"It's very disappointing."

Aedan Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland, said: "RSPB Scotland is surprised and extremely disappointed at this decision, which we believe is wrong both for Aberdeenshire and for Scotland.

"The development will cause the destruction of a dune system, with its precious wildlife, on a site which is protected by law and should continue to be available for future generations to enjoy.

"We, and the thousands of other objectors, consider that this is too high a price to pay for the claimed economic benefits from this development."

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