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Trump shuts down body created to protect Scottish environment

The group was intended to prevent damage to the area surrounding his Aberdeenshire golf links.

Donald Trump: Group created to protect Balmedie dunes shut down (file pic). <strong>PA</strong>
Donald Trump: Group created to protect Balmedie dunes shut down (file pic). PA

Donald Trump has shut down a group which was created to protect Scotland’s environment.

When the billionaire was given permission to build his Aberdeenshire golf course in 2008, the deal included a commitment to fund a team of advisers to oversee the development of the course.

The arrangement was intended to prevent work at Trump International Golf Links from causing unnecessary damage to the area of special scientific interest it was built on.

However, it has now emerged that the Menie Environmental Management Advisory Group (Memag) has been dissolved despite plans to expand facilities at the course.

Trump Organisation executive vice-president George Sorial said: “Having successfully completed its scrutiny role for the construction of the championship golf course, Memag was dissolved.

“More than 95% of the site of special scientific interest (SSSI) remains untouched and the ecological diversity of the site remains intact.”

Mr Sorial’s claims are disputed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, which says that a third of the SSSI has been damaged.

Memag last met in January 2013, six months after Trump International opened, and in December that year Aberdeenshire Council wrote to the Trump Organisation to remind it that the group remains a legal requirement.

The council did not receive a response and contacted the Trump Organisation again last week, when it was made it clear that Memag had been dissolved.

A council spokesman said: “To date the council has not been advised of the preferred option to deal with this matter.”

Mr Trump highlighted the importance of Memag’s work in a letter to the Scottish Parliament in April 2012, saying the course had been built to the highest environmental standards under the “strict supervision” of the group.

However, representatives from the Trump Organisation failed to turn up to meetings in April 2011 and May 2012, prompting Memag to write to the company.

It is unclear if Mr Trump still intends to build a second course at Balmedie and whether plans for a 450-bedroom hotel and holiday homes remain on the table.

The President-elect has repeatedly stalled the development of the course over an offshore wind farm which is being built in Aberdeen Bay.

Aberdeenshire Council controversially give permission for the 1400-acre course to be built on a section of a rare mobile sand dune system which is legally protected because of its environmental significance and importance to local wildlife.

Dr Tom Dargie, Mr Trump’s adviser on the Menie sand dunes from 2006 and 2009, described the decision to wind down Memag as “extremely worrying”.

He said: “No Memag input since 2013 means no information on habitat and species change in the crucial early years of golf course operation at Menie.”

A plaque on the Menie Estate wrongly claims the sand dunes at Balmedie are among the biggest in the world, although the area does boast the fifth-largest sand dune system in Britain.


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