A special meeting of Aberdeenshire council overwhelmingly backed Donald Trump’s plans for a £1billion golf resort in north-east Scotland this week.
Mr Trump’s spokesman, Mr. George Sorial said he was “very pleased and very grateful” for the council’s backing and that the support was a “very big step in the right direction”. Mr. Sorial had warned previously that failure by the council to endorse the plans could jeopardize the entire scheme. The meeting was largely symbolic however last week the Scottish government said it would have final say on the application after being previously rejected by a council committee on environmental grounds.
The council also voted to unseat Martin Ford as chair of the committee which, on his casting vote, rejected the application last time round.
The leader of the Scottish National party group on the council, Joanna Strathdee, said councilors needed to restore the business and wider community’s confidence in the planning process and show the world that north-east Scotland was open for business, environmental issues be damned.
“I have worked with Councillor Ford for over eight years now and he has my utmost respect,” said Ms. Strathdee, “However, as chair of one of the most important and powerful committees in the council charged with the economic development of the north-east, it was clear that his position was untenable.”
Outgoing chair, Mr Ford, said: “I am naturally disappointed it’s ended up like this. It sends out absolutely the wrong message about the integrity of the planning system.”
The committee’s rejection of Mr. Trump’s scheme had previously provoked criticism from business and tourism leaders. 14 of Scotland’s leading environmental organizations later said in a joint statement they had “profound concerns” about the interference in the planning process. The Scottish Wildlife Trust also opposes the resort plans and said its advice had been ignored. of campaign group Sustainable Aberdeenshire’s representative, Mickey Foote said he felt “let down” by the councilors.
Helen McDade, head of policy for the John Muir Trust, said, “To depose someone for following such clear guidelines and his conscience on such an important issue is of huge concern and questions the integrity of the new planning regime.”