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.