Three times a loser in bitter legal battle, Trump may still have the last laugh over Grampian wind farm

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

US Republican party prospective presidential candidate Donald Trump has today been voted three times a loser in the UK courts – even before he gets anywhere near the White House.

Trump’s latest – and final – legal bid to overturn the decision by the Scottish Government to approve a planning application bid to build an 11-turbine windfarm near his golf course in Aberdeenshire has been thrown out by a unanimous verdict of the UK Supreme Court in London.

Gary McGovern, Energy and planning partner at legal firm Pinsent Masons, commented: “Donald Trump will be hoping he has more success at the US ballot box than he does in the UK courts.

 “Today’s decision is long overdue but is still a welcome shot in the arm for offshore wind and the wider UK renewables industry.

“In pursuing a weak argument described previously in the Court of Session (Scotland’s Supreme Court) as “fallacious”, this case has perpetuated a lingering doubt over longstanding legal principles, and that has been to the detriment of the whole energy industry.

 “Renewable energy developers will therefore breathe a sigh of relief and it is hoped that this and other projects affected can now gather pace, without the threat of costly legal challenges and delays on similarly dubious grounds hanging over them.

 “Against the backdrop of the climate change agreement reached in Paris at the weekend and the contribution that renewable energy is expected to make a contribution to binding climate targets, this ruling underscores the need for a fair and efficient legal process which deals with unmeritorious claims quickly.”

Defiant to the end in the face of overwhelming legal verdicts, a spokesman for Trump said:  “This is an extremely unfortunate verdict for the residents of Aberdeen and anyone who cares about Scotland’s economic future.

“The European Offshore Wind Deployment project will completely destroy the bucolic Aberdeen Bay and cast a terrible shadow upon the future of tourism for the area.

“History will judge those involved unfavourably and the outcome demonstrates the foolish, small-minded and parochial mentality which dominates the current Scottish government’s dangerous experiment with wind energy”.

But the Scottish Government blasted back, with Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing saying:

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has unanimously found in our favour.

“The proposed European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre is an important project for Aberdeen and north east Scotland.

“It will give the industry the ability to test and demonstrate new technologies to enable costs to be further reduced.

“Aberdeen is already of global importance for hydrocarbons and this wind deployment centre cements its role in renewable offshore development, further positioning Aberdeen as the energy capital of Europe and a world energy centre.”

Alex Salmond, MP
Alex Salmond, MP

Alex Salmond, MP – who was First Minister of Scotland when Trump first launched his legal battle – said:  “As first minister, I was cited in Trump’s legal action. Now that it is concluded, I am free to speak my mind on the damaging impact of his interventions on the Scottish economy.

“These proceedings have been dragged out for years through three successive court judgements by Donald Trump as he tried to stop an offshore Aberdeen wind turbine demonstrator by means of legal action.

“In doing so he has at best postponed, and at worst jeopardised, a vital £200 million boost for the economy of the north east of Scotland.

“The offshore project could have been built by now with Aberdeen benefiting from becoming the offshore wind research centre of Europe – a vital development at a time of rock bottom oil prices.”

Andy Paine, project director for Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Ltd, said: “This is another significant step forward for the EOWDC.

“It affirms the scheme’s potential to position Scotland, and particularly the north east, as a centre of innovative offshore wind power.”

However, for reasons cited by Salmond, and also because of the ‘bonfire of the renewables subsidies’ since implemented by the Tory UK Government, the controversial wind farm may not in fact ever be built due to changes in economic circumstances.

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