View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 15 November 2010

Donald Trump and his Golf Course

American multi-millionaire Donald Trump has worked over the past 5 years to get a "world class" golf course constructed just north of Aberdeen. It involves a £1bn investment, 900 homes, 500 chalets and a hotel. The location is the Menie Estate, 6 miles north of the city, which is the location of a protected wildlife habitat. And the location of the homes of several people, who have no desire to shift.

Mr Trump has, through means fair and foul, acquired planning permission. He gave out the line that anybody who would dare to oppose his development would be seen to be closing the door on big business in Aberdeenshire. So when the planning permission was denied on the casting vote of the commission chairman, he was vilified (mildly put) in the local press. The planning application was called in by the Scottish Government and approved.

The residents who do not want to sell up are under threat of a compulsory purchase order, but whether that will actually be exercised remains to be seen.

Mr Trump is a businessman with a capital B (which I refuse to use in this blogpost), who only, and exclusively, thinks of money. That is fair enough. He trumpets (sic) his Scottish heritage ad nauseam, but then does not realise that people in Scotland do not have this pre-occupation with dollars (or pounds) that he has. Which completely negates the morality behind his claim to be Scottish. Yes, his mother was Scottish, and came from a small village a few miles north of Stornoway. Donald Trump comprehensively fails to understand that land is sacred to the rural Scot. I have been boring readers on this blog over the past few weeks with accounts of the Clearances in the Highlands and Islands - and here we have another Clearance looming, in the year 2010. OK, I am overstating my case, I mean, what are half a dozen people, scattered across a croft, a farmhouse and a converted coastguard station? But it's the principle that's at stake.

The principle is that in Scotland, money is not the leading light. It is important, for sure. But people are more important, and there is legislation in place to protect people from overdue pressure by big money. Mr Trump is completely within his rights to express a desire to build something on the coast of Aberdeenshire, and I respect him for being a successful businessman. But I hold no respect for a man in his position who rides roughshod over the little man, in his own pursuit of even more money.

Monday 15 November

No post yesterday, as I was spending my time recovering from a streaming cold on Saturday. Back on form today, and it was a cold day. A band of rain passed over at lunchtime, after which the sun returned. It did not do much to lift temperatures: mid forties Fahrenheit (around 6C) is the best we managed.

Thirteen months after being captured off the Seychelles, Paul and Rachel Chandler were released from Somalia yesterday. They were not treated very well, and the couple looked gaunt and haggard, although happy, on television. The British government has denied that it contributed towards the ransome money, paid towards the pirates. To said pirates, the Chandlers were just a commodity, which would, given time, yield millions of dollars. Somalia has no effective government and has been torn apart by two decades of civil war.

Today, it is 6 years ago since I first arrived in Lewis. I link to the entry on my Northern Trip blog.

Lochmaddy (July 1994)

Berneray (July 2009)

Leverburgh (July 2009)

Scaladale, North Harris (October 2007)

Balallan at dusk (January 2008)