Long, long ago, before Donald Trump pledged to spend $1 billion on a US presidential campaign, he was fighting another expensive battle across the pond.
Since 2011, the American tycoon has been litigating in Scotland, where he owns some tracts of land and a luxury resort, to stop the building of wind farms off the coast. He says they will make the vistas available to his golfers less idyllic. He has lost at every step of the Scottish legal system. Today, he takes the fight to the UK Supreme Court.
Before trying to block the building of turbines off Aberdeenshire, on the eastern coast of Scotland, Trump had already tried and failed to stop another wind farm from coming to fruition. When he began the campaign to stop the power-generating turbines, Trump was a famous businessman.
He continues them as one of the frontrunners in the US presidential campaign. He’s serious about becoming president. And about his right to golf with nothing spoiling the view.
The problem is, Scotland is deeply serious about offshore wind energy. It’s a small country with a vast coastline and sea resources compared to its size, high winds, and expertise in energy: Scots have been running much of North Sea oil’s offshore infrastructure for years.
“Offshore renewables represent a huge opportunity for Scotland; an opportunity to build up new industries and to deliver on our ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction targets,” said Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s minister for business, energy and tourism, when he approved part of the Aberdeenshire project back in 2013.
Large-scale development of offshore wind farms is the biggest opportunity for sustainable economic growth in Scotland “for a generation,” the government has said. It could support up to 38,000 new jobs and generate £7 billion ($10.7 billion) by 2020.
In the face of such plans, even Trump’s wealth and commitment to unsullied marine beauty (onshore seems to be a different matter, since several acres is now no longer wild dune, but golf course) doesn’t seem enough.
Though he is by no means alone. A “Not in my back yard” (NIMBY) backlash against wind farms in the UK as a whole has arguably led to some changes in policy, and waning government support during this parliament.
Those who support Trump’s position need not lose hope. If he fails in the UK, Trump has said he will take the fight to Europe.