25 April 2012

Trump to oppose wind farms in Scottish Parliament

US Billionaire Donald Trump and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond

Scottish wind energy plans are taking a hit today from US billionaire Donald Trump, who is opposing the government’s promotion of wind projects largely because of a proposed offshore wind farm near his new golf resort in Aberdeenshire.

Trump is to speak with protesters from the ‘Communities Against Turbines Scotland’, before speaking with MSP’s on the issue at the Scottish parliament. This is part of an inquiry by the energy and tourism committee, who are assessing the countries green energy targets.

The government has ambitious plans for 100% of its energy demand to come from renewables by 2020, making it one of the first countries in the world to do so. This would not mean an end to all fossil fuels in the country, as it will be a net exporter of energy, but will be a huge stride in the context of renewable generation compared to other countries.

Trump’s arguments have been heard before, but his celebrity status may turn the Scottish public away from the idea of renewables. His argument is particularly vitriolic and he has said that wind power ‘cannot survive without subsidies’ and that the turbines will destroy the tourism industry in the country. He is backing up this statement by pledging up to £10 million from his company in fighting the development near his resort.

It is clear that Trump feels he has a lot to lose with regards to the turbines, and as a result it does seem to be a form of personal vendetta against the technology. With world oil subsidies in the billions, and completely unsustainable, it is rather strange to suggest wind turbines ‘cannot survive without subsidies’. Indeed, it could prosper without subsidies, given a removal of subsidies surrounding other forms of energy.

There is also no evidence that wind farms are reducing tourism. Some wind farms in the UK have been present for a number of years, and have shown no signs of damaging the local economy; rather they have created valuable jobs in the regions. There have been issues surrounding onshore wind creating noise problems, but this is not relevant to offshore wind.

In a resolute stand against the criticism, Alec Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, says that investment in Scotland does not imply ownership, and that energy policy would be decided by its people and elected politicians. He has also made clear that he realises Trump will not agree with wind power, but he hopes that the tycoon will come to understand the importance of renewables to the future of the country.

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