President Donald Trump has been known to not care one whit about the environment, so it comes as no surprise that one of his golf courses in Scotland is responsible for the destruction of a fragile sand dune system.
According to a review by Scottish Natural Heritage, which has been under pressure for several years to look into the development, as much as 168 acres of sand dunes have shown “considerable damage” since Trump’s course opened near the site of special scientific interest (SSSI) in 2012.
“Construction of the new golf course involved earthworks, planting of trees, greens and fairways, drainage, irrigation and grass planting,” stated one of the agency’s documents obtained by The Guardian. “This has affected the natural morphology of the dunes and interfered with natural processes. Most of its important geomorphological features have been lost or reduced to fragments. Nearby marine terraces have also been reduced to fragments.”
The damage is to such an extent that it is doubtful the dune site, known as Foveran Links, will be able to maintain its protected status.
“These documents show that considerable damage has been done to Foveran Links, and that it is very unlikely that it will retain its [site of special scientific interest] status,” Bob Ward, the policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, told The Guardian.
Trump initially won permission to operate his golf course in 2008 after he promised to protect the dunes and boost the local economy. The billionaire mogul vowed to create up to 6,000 jobs by building a 5-star hotel with 450 rooms, a sports complex, shops, two golf estates and housing estates.
However, as is typical of him, Trump has fallen way short of his original goal.
Right now, the resort only sports an 18-hole course opened seven-month a year, a small clubhouse with a restaurant and a shop, and a practice range. He also converted the Menie’s manor into a boutique hotel with 16 rooms.
Suffice to say, the devastating loss of ecosystem has not resulted in a financial or economic success, just like Trump’s Turnberry resort in South Ayrshire, Scotland.
Understandably, local councilors and residents believe Trump failed to honor the pledge he made in 2008 to create an environmentally-conscious model when building his golf course when he pushed for a planning inquiry to ignore the dunes’ protected status.
Trump — who threatened to withdraw his entire scheme if he was not given permission to develop on the southern end of the SSSI — thinks the approach to the course is “first class.”
However, his view is not shared by environmental conservationists.
“It appears that the desires of one high-profile overseas developer, who refused to compromise one inch, have been allowed to override the legal protection of this important site. And we fear this sets a precedent that will undermine the whole protected-sites network in Scotland,” Aedán Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland, told the Times.
“It’s been ruined from a virgin, undeveloped wilderness site into something that’s relatively manicured,” said Dr Jim Hansom, a specialist in coastal ecology at Glasgow University.
He said the site has lost its key features — the strangely shifting sand dunes and the diverse flora — that resulted in it being protected.
The Trump Organization, which is being currently run by the president’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, is planning to invest a further 150 million pounds ($197 million) into the doomed resort. In total, it expects to invest 750 million pounds ($984 million) to develop 500 residential homes, a sports center, 50 hotel cottages, equestrian and commercial spaces as well as other luxury facilities.
This is yet another blow to the cause of environment that was revealed just days after Trump proposed to weaken a landmark bill that seeks to conserve the wolf, bald eagle and other species from extinction.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters