Donald Trump has lost his latest legal battle to prevent over an offshore wind farm near his golf resort in Aberdeenshire going ahead.
The American billionaire wanted a judicial review into his claim that Scottish ministers acted illegally by approving the 11-turbine scheme in Aberdeen bay. A previous application by Mr Trump had been dismissed.
Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Gill, Lord President, ruled that the earlier decision had been legal.
A spokesman for Trump said the ruling proved “it’s impossible to have a fair hearing challenging wind farm applications in Scotland”.
The tycoon objected to the government decision in March 2013 to proceed with the £230m European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) scheme without holding a public inquiry.
The Trump spokesman said a legal team has now been instructed to lodge an appeal at the UK Supreme Court and the European Courts.
He added: “The European Offshore Wind Development Centre proposal has now languished in the planning system for more than 10 years and has a long way to go before construction can actually commence.
“Vattenfall, AREG and Technip <the developers> have long abandoned the project and it’s common knowledge that there is no money available for it to proceed.
“Onerous conditions must be purified and the legal challenge to its electrical substation, which is being fought by the entire village of Blackdog, is far from being resolved.
“Despite today’s ruling, with no available money and the current political movement to end wind farm subsidies, it’s impossible to envision how this ill-conceived proposal will ever get built.”
Andy Paine, project director for the EOWDC and head of offshore wind development for Vattenfall UK, said: “We are obviously pleased that the <Scottish> courts have yet again supported the EOWDC, a much needed investment in Scotland’s and the North East’s energy infrastructure.
“The decision by Scotland’s supreme court brings closer a technologically-advanced offshore wind sector supporting a sustainable and secure energy supply at lower cost. The EOWDC will also prove to be an integral, flagship project for Aberdeen city-shire’s Energetica plan <a renewable energy speculative property development based on generating income for the councils by approving developments > positioning the region as a renewables leader.”
However, the decision does not automatically mean that the wind farm development will go ahead as it also requires additional planning approval from Aberdeenshire council for the related electricity grid sub-station for the power cables.
This has been rejected by the local authority but developers hope that the financial and economic shock of the world crude oil price slump – which has seen thousands of offshore jobs in the area being axed – will now influence the climate of opinion in favour of alternative energy projects in the north-east.
The EOWDC spokesman added: “The project partners are continuing to advance the scheme whilst the legal challenges continue and would like to see construction start in 2017 or 2018”.
Alex Salmond, MP, who was First Minister of Scotland at the time the project was given the green light, praised Lord Gill’s decision and hit out at the Trump Organisation for delaying the project.
He said: “I am delighted by the decision of the highest court in Scotland to turn down Mr Trump’s case. This judgement is one led by Scotland’s most senior judge, the Lord President. The Trump organisation has now been beaten twice in the Scottish courts and I hope that he will now accept the decision with good grace.
“The decision and the inevitable time taken to reach it bring two things into sharp relief. Firstly the recent oil downturn illustrates why the North-east of Scotland needs to be not just an oil capital but an international energy centre.
“Offshore wind is an emerging technology and the demonstrator of up to eleven new turbine devices would have put us at the centre of the development of that technology for the future. These are jobs that we need.
“Secondly we have seen a number of times recently where corporate power can frustrate democratic decisions by litigation for delay rather than winning in court. It would be tragic for the North-east if delay has impeded this valuable offshore project.”