Trump Climbdown Cautiously Welcomed
Today's announcement by Donald Trump that he will not seek compulsory purchase orders against Menie residents who do not wish to sell to him (1) was today cautiously welcomed by the Scottish Greens. However, the party pointed to a letter he sent to Aberdeenshire Council in March 2009 (2) that completely undermines his claim never to have threatened the families with compulsory purchase, and noted that Mr Trump has a track record which means they cannot even now be completely reassured.
Councillor Martin Ford said:
"Mr Trump does appear, at last, to have ruled out using compulsory purchase to force his neighbours from their homes. This should be a day of real relief and joy for the families at Menie. This is not a struggle they sought, and they were up against Donald Trump's billions and local politicians who have backed Mr Trump again and again. The residents have run a principled and passionate campaign, they have been supported by the public both in Aberdeenshire and across the country, and today it seems they have won.
"I am delighted for them, and I would now urge Mr Trump to break with character and be sensitive to how he develops the land adjacent to the families' properties. I would also like to thank the many thousands of people who have actively campaigned for the residents' right to stay in their own homes if they want to do so.
"As for Mr Trump's claim that he has 'no interest in compulsory purchase and have never applied for it' that is downright untrue. Mr Trump's lawyers wrote to Aberdeenshire Council on 4 March 2009 formally requesting the Council 'to exercise its powers of compulsory purchase ... to acquire eight plots of land on behalf of Trump International Golf Links Scotland'. The eight properties are listed and include the homes of four families."
Robin Harper MSP, who jointly owns a plot of land at Menie, said:
"This has been a long and unduly painful episode, and one that has revealed substantial flaws in the Scottish planning process. Never again should families who do not wish to sell be vulnerable to bullying of this sort, and developers must never again be allowed to apply for planning permission to demolish someone else's property against their wishes and for purely private profit. Furthermore, the dunes at Menie were identified as one Scotland's most important sites of special scientific interest, a status supposed to protect them from development, but which proved no protection whatsoever.
"Scotland is nothing if its land and its people are not protected, and Ministers have stood aside as Mr Trump has attempted to trample all over both. This has been a shameful saga, and it's not over yet. The problems it has revealed must be remedied early in the next Parliament if public faith in the planning process is to be restored. It would also be a step forward if Mr Trump now abandoned his obnoxious attitude and bullying tactics and made some attempt to come to terms with the needs and aspirations of local people and his absolute duty to do everything he can to protect the local environment."
2. See pdf of the letter here: