By Martin Kelly
Donald Trump’s attacks on wind power in Scotland dissolved in a performance noteworthy only for the US tycoon’s bizarre testimony.
Appearing in front of a Holyrood Committee to explain the reasoning behind his recent frenzied attacks on the Scottish Government’s windfarm plans, Mr Trump made a series of incredible allegations.
The most incredible was that two First Minister’s had promised that no wind turbines would be situated near his luxury golf course in Aberdeen.
Mr Trump claimed that he only went ahead with the project after Labour First Minister Jack McConnell gave a personal pledge that wind farms would not be erected near his luxury development.
“Jack McConnell said it won’t be built,” Mr Trump told the committee.
“His people were telling my people that it won’t happen. They talked about the Ministry of Defence would never approve it, because it had something to do with radar, and they talked about the shipping lanes, especially because it’s near Aberdeen.
“They said it won’t happen. It was very prevalent for a short period of time and then it totally disappeared.”
This wasn’t the first time the controversial tycoon had claimed he had an understanding with Mr McConnell. However the American then surprised the committee and watching gallery when he claimed that current First Minister Alex Salmond had also given similar undertakings.
Of a meeting with Mr Salmond in 2007, after the SNP had won the Holyrood election, he said: “In the meantime, Alex Salmond, when I discussed it with him towards the beginning, he poo-pooed it and said: ‘You have a Ministry of Defence problem, you have all sorts of shipping lane problems, I wouldn’t worry about that’, and I continued to go forward.”
Responding to Mr Trump’s claims, Mr Salmond said the tycoon had already admitted to him that it was the previous administration that had given pledges, he said:
“I spoke to Donald Trump a few weeks ago where he accepted on the phone that this administration had not given them assurances about offshore wind – it was the previous administration. They were arguing that we were bound by the policies of the previous administration, which in itself is a nonsense.”
Jack McConnell said: “Mr Trump was treated with the same respect and courtesy that I and my government treated all potential inward investors.
“It is a pity that he doesn’t return that courtesy now.
“He was encouraged to be interested in Scotland, but always told that we had procedures about planning applications and consents that must be followed, and about which he could receive no prior guarantees.”
Asked for evidence for either claim, Mr Trump admitted he had none. The tycoon has caused controversy by insisting that Scotland would be financially ruined if wind farm projects were allowed to continue.
Mr Trump has claimed that wind farms would leave Scotland “broke” and that tourists would instead flock to places like Ireland. The tycoon dismissed recent polls that show tourists aren’t troubled by wind farms and that Scottish tourism had in fact increased, with the farms themselves being seen as an attraction.
However again pressed to provide evidence for the claim about tourism, the man known as ‘The Donald’ said “I’m the evidence”.