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Real estate mogul Donald Trump may be enjoying continued success in his quest for the U.S. presidency, but he struck out in a big way in his effort to halt construction of a wind farm in Scotland that he says would spoil the view at his nearby luxury golf resort.
Britain’s Supreme Court, the kingdom’s highest legal authority, ruled Wednesday in London against Trump’s argument that the turbines generating renewable energy also represent “a dangerous experiment in wind energy.”
The Trump International Golf Links at the Menie Estate near Aberdeen has caused controversy in the area for years. At first, Scotland’s independence proponents gave their approval to Trump’s project as a source of jobs and a magnet for tourist spending in an otherwise forbidding area on the region’s harsh northeastern coast.
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The golf resort was approved in 2008 after Scottish officials rejected environmentalists’ concerns that the project would damage valuable wilderness, declaring that the economic benefits to the region would more than offset any damage to the environment.
But the American billionaire, who is in part of Scottish descent, became critical of Scotland’s government two years ago when it allowed the Vattenfall and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group to erect 11 tall turbines, powerful enough to generate electrical power to nearly 70,000 homes.
Twice Trump’s lawyers went before courts in Scotland in an effort to block them, even threatening to scrap his plans to build the resort. He lost both of those cases, then went before the Supreme Court. It ruled unanimously that Trump was wrong in arguing that the decision by Scotland’s government didn’t comply with local law and that planning application for the farm was unsound.
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Trump even publicly disputed the case with onetime ally Alex Salmond, an independence proponent who served as Scotland’s first minister until last year. Salmond expressed glee when he heard of the court’s ruling against Trump, saying that losing his third court challenge of the wind farm made him a “three times a loser.”
George A. Sorial, the executive vice president and counsel for the Trump Organization, called the Supreme Court decision “an extremely unfortunate verdict for the residents of Aberdeen and anyone who cares about Scotland’s economic future.” He said the real estate magnate will “continue to fight this [wind farm] proposal on every possible front.”
Still, there is no higher legal authority in Britain that Trump can turn to. “The only conceivable option left is to turn to the European Court of Human Rights to claim that, as a property owner, his human rights have been infringed,” said Gary McGovern of the London-based law firm Pinsent Masons. “However, the likelihood of success in Europe seems slim to none.”
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Fallout from his legal challenges aren’t the only problems Trump faces in Britain, as his presidential campaign statements have made him something of a persona non grata, at least among Scottish officialdom. Most recently, Trump said Muslims should at least temporarily barred from entering the United States.
On Dec. 9, Scotland’s current first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, canceled Trump’s membership in the GlobalScot network of Scottish business people. At the same time, Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen withdrew the honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree that it had awarded him in 2010.
By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com
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Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com