Trump Prevails in NE Scotland

Officials in Aberdeen, Scotland have made the decision to sacrifice some of the World’s most beautiful and untouched coastal dunes for Europe’s largest golf complex. Trump calls his project “the greatest golf course in the world.” One wonders if he’s setting the bar a little high, particularly as there are already some amazing golf courses just on the 30-mile stretch of coastline near the proposed project. The decision is not that surprising given the bad economic news in the UK.

Jobs and economic growth will often take precence over environmental or heritage concerns. As Severin Carrell notes in the Guardian this morning, “the habitat supports wildlife such as skylarks, otters, pipistrelle bats, badgers and toads. The dunes are also periodic nesting sites for migratory pink-footed geese using the Ythan estuary, Sands of Forvie and Meikle Loch 3km to the north.” It should be noted that our electioneering French Spaniel enjoyed walking those dunes the last few years (on his leash of course).

This has been a long approval process. I wrote nearly two years ago about the initial stages of the planning permission process. These dunes are important environmental areas and also contain stone age relics. Of course balancing those concerns against the jobs and economic impact the golf complex could foster may have been too tempting for the local officials. The complex will be 1,400 acres, costing $1.6 billion, with two championship courses, a hotel, time-share condos, and private homes. It helped of course that the Scottish Prime Minister Alex Salmond was eager to force the project to go ahead.

At a practical level, I’m not sure that kind of resort compound will fit well with NE Scotland. Trump won’t be able to wall off his complex in Scotland, as is the unfortunate tendency in many American complexes like this. You can walk everywhere Scotland. Also, though it is very beautiful, the NE of Scotland is not endowed with hospitable weather. Fog, rain, bitter cold and wind are common — even in the height of summer in July and August.

Trump might do well to bear in mind the history of Cruden Bay to the North. It is an exceedingly beautiful course. In 1899, a 55-room hotel was built to capitalize on the golf course and encourage visitors. Things went smoothly until the hotel closed during the 1930s, and it currently lies in disrepair. One hopes at least that Trump’s golf complex won’t result in a similar boondoggle.

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Catching Up

Apologies for the light posting in recent days. I’ve been quite busy in the last week. I was fortunate enough to submit my thesis last week, so hopefully the oral examination (with a good result) will take place soon. Also, I had the opportunity to present a bit of my own work at a very interesting seminar on the lex situs rule organized by the Institute of Art and Law, and Withers LLP, which has its own Arts and Cultural Assets Group. I’ll post more on the event later this afternoon. For now I’ll just give a rundown of some very interesting events which have taken place in recent days.

  • Donald Trump’s proposed golf-o-rama just north of Aberdeen has been rejected by the Aberdeenshire Council. To be clear, Trump’s development had little to do with golf, and more to do with holiday homes, a luxury hotel, and mega-houses.
  • Some of the staff at the Portable Antiquities Scheme have started to map finds with google maps.
  • Australian art-authenticator Robyn Sloggett estimates perhaps 1 in 10 works on the market are fake.
  • The Hellenic Society for Law and Archaeology reports on the new Greek Cultural Goods legislation, which will appoint a special cultural heritage prosecutor and purports to extend the expansion of Greek penal law even when crimes have taken place abroad.
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Golf, Donald Trump and the Stone Age

Aberdeen’s own Press & Journal details a potential headache for Donald Trump. The billionaire has been planning a new golf resort here in the North-East of Scotland, between Balmedie and Newburgh. The plans include 2 courses, a village, and a 5-star resort. It may all cost up to £5 billion. Unfortunately, these hills may contain Stone Age relics. An environmental assessment is currently underway. There is no definitive proof that the dunes contain relics, however Ian Shepherd, an archaeologist with the Aberdeenshire Council speculates that, “the coast would have been rich in food sources and a perfect place for hunter gatherers. They could have found whales washed ashore, seals for hunting and wildfowl further inland. Our evidence is that these areas were really at a premium.”

If I had to guess, I’d say that the chances of this kind of development were to be held up by some archaeological concerns are quite slim. Perhaps a compromise could be worked out wherein parts of the development are excavated. There always exists a tension between archaeology, environmental concerns, and development. My personal view is that the impacts of the courses and hotel would likely be far less intrusive than that of the oil industry in the wider area. Though I should confess I’m an avid golfer, and one could not imagine a more perfect setting for golf.

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