Intelligent Energy

Donald Trump blasts wind in Scotland

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Billionaire tycoon heading to Scottish Parliament to oppose offshore turbines that he says will spoil the view from his luxury golf resort.

Balmedie Beach, near the site of Donald Trump's luxury golf resort in Aberdeenshire.

Question: What's more important? A) A rich person enjoying an unblemished sea view over perfectly poached eggs prior to a leisurely golf outing. B) Renewable energy.

If you're Donald Trump, the answer is "A."

The property billionaire is heading to Scottish Parliament today to oppose a proposed offshore wind farm that he says will spoil the view from the $1.6 billion seaside golf resort he's building on the country's northeast coast in Aberdeenshire, the BBC reports.

The 11 giant turbines in Aberdeen Bay would sit about a mile from his luxury hotel, fairways and clubhouse, which he started building in 2010. Trump halted construction of the Trump International Golf Links in January, reportedly to apply pressure against the wind farm's approval.

First Minister Alex Salmond: Money doesn't own Scotland.

His testimony to Parliament's economy committee today will be the latest twist in his vocal opposition to wind farms in Scotland, which play a major role in First Minister Alex Salmond's ambitious goal to generate 100 percent of Scotland's electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020.

Trump has in the past referred to Scotland's wind turbines as "financial suicide" that would turn the country and its landscape into a "third world wasteland that global investors will avoid." He has plenty of backing from other wind opponents in Scotland. Prior to heading to Parliament in Edinburgh, he was due to speak with protest group Communities Against Turbines Scotland.

Trump's remarks have steeled First Minister Salmond, whose country could benefit economically from the resort, but who is determined not to let an extravagant tycoon pull the strings.

Salmond said yesterday that an investment such as Trump's in the country "does not imply ownership of Scotland." The Scottish leader has said that offshore wind as a whole is worth £30 billion ($48 billion) and 28,000 jobs to the Scottish economy. He also pointed out that tourism has been rising since Scotland started installing turbines, thus refuting Trump's claim that unsightly turbines will keep people away.

A guy with a lot of money.

The £150 million ($242 million) wind farm in Aberdeen Bay would be a joint effort by Swedish utility Vatenfall, engineering firm Technip, and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group.

Trump's resort in Scotland has triggered controversy from its earliest days of planning, overcoming opposition from people who were flat out opposed to it. Trump received approval to develop in a conservation area known for its beauty, sand dunes and wading birds. His opposition to wind farms as ugly strikes many people as hypocrisy.

Wind turbines have run into plenty of opposition both on land and sea. How far away from civilization do these things have to go before "I can't stand the sight of 'em" no longer works in opposition?  We may soon have the answer. The industry is developing "floating" off shore turbines that can roam atop deep waters far, far offshore because they don't have to attach to the seabed.  The US and UK earlier this week announced plans to jointly advance the technology.

Even there, expect to hear some lonely mariner growl about ugly floaters, although I'm not sure how much lobbying power he'll have. His name probably won't be Trump.

Photos: Balmedie Beach from Geograph.org.uk. Salmond, Trump from Wikimedia Commons.

More answers blowing in the wind on SmartPlanet:

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure