Donald Trump to Scotland's Wind Power: You're Fired!

The seaside view from Trump's golf course in Scotland may soon include an offshore wind farm. The Donald is not pleased

Scotland may be famous for tartan kilts, the Loch Ness monster and single malt scotch, but if the vision of First Minister Alex Salmond is realized, it will have a new claim to fame: wind power. It's so windy off the coast, in fact, that harnessing all that wind could supply a fourth of Europe's offshore wind energy -- enough to keep Scottish lights on seven times over. Salmond, who is also the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), is keen on developing the country's tidal and wave power as well.


"The Scottish Government and our agencies are determined to build a strong, sustainable and world-leading offshore renewables industry, bringing jobs and investment to communities around the country," said Salmond at a recent meeting of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board (SEAB).

“An increasing number of major overseas firms are already joining leading Scottish companies to invest in the development of wind, wave and tidal in Scotland," he said. "As we move towards our 2020 target of ensuring renewables contribute at least 100 percent of Scotland's own electricity demand, it is important that the scoping, planning, development and deployment of offshore wind, wave and tidal generation is done as effectively and efficiently as possible."


Scotland is also famous for being the home of golf. And Salmond's penchant for wind has found a new foe in the form of Donald Trump, whose famous hair is in a muss over a Swedish-backed plan to build an offshore wind farm of 11 turbines in Aberdeen Bay, near his GBP 750 million (USD 1.18 billion) golf course in Balmedie.

"With the reckless installation of these monsters, you will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history," Trump wrote, rather hyperbolically, in an angry letter to the First Minister. "As a matter of fact, I have just authorised my staff to allocate a substantial amount of money to launch an international campaign to fight your plan to surround Scotland's coast with many thousands of wind turbines." He characterized Salmond's plan as "insanity."


Trump is not alone. The Scottish anti-windfarm movement is rising. In November, the port town of Ayr on the southwestern coast hosted the country's first anti-windfarm conference. Susan Crosthwaite of Communities Against Turbines Scotland (CATS), which organized the gathering, said that the group wants to "make the Scottish Government and windfarm developers listen to the wishes of long-suffering local communities before they carpet our beautiful countryside with wind turbines."

Indeed, while the naysayers question the science behind wind power and its ability to create jobs, much of the hoopla is over the loss of natural beauty. There is no doubt that turbines change the landscape in a dramatic way -- and even kill birds and bats. "It is huge size and constant movement which raises the ire of landscape protection groups," writes John Etherington, a former reader of ecology at the University of Wales, in his 2009 book, The Wind Farm Scam. "nd it is their visual impact on the countryside which influences the average person, if only because they see a potential effect on the value of their homes."


In a letter to the Scottish press regarding the anti-windfarm conference, Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, which represents the country's renewable energy industry, pointed out that Scotland's wind farms are not only saving around 3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, but wind development is supporting investment and jobs.

Stuart said that wind investment accounted for the majority of the GBP 750 million (USD 1.18 billion) invested in the renewable energy sector over the twelve-month period leading up to November 2011, "a time when most sectors were struggling for investment." With renewable investments of GBP 46 billion (USD 72 billion) already scheduled, he noted that "renewables could be a massive driver of investment in Scotland's economy for many years to come," adding, "'Business as usual' is no longer an option."

Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, brushed off Trump's demands and warnings and said that the developer "needs to understand is that Scotland will live up to our responsibilities to tackle climate change." Describing Trump's letter as "a rather desperate attempt by a rich man who is used to getting his own way," Rennie said, "his latest tizzy is embarrassing…I would urge the first minister to listen to Mr. Trump but no more and no less than anyone else. We won't be bullied by Mr. Trump and his millions."


More diplomatically, Salmond said, "People will be opposed for a whole variety of reasons but as we mobilise this industry, as we are established as world leaders, tens of thousands of jobs come to this country and as we re-industrialise this nation then, eventually, just about everybody will get on board, even Donald Trump."

The choice regarding Scottish wind power is clear: maintain BAU -- and the landscape's unadulterated beauty -- or move to a low carbon economy (LCE) to prevent the worst effects of climate change while energizing the economy.

Also, it's worth noting that the type of turbine and its placement can also help ameliorate the worst effects on wildlife and natural beauty. The newer and less common veritical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs), for example, are likely to be less harmful to birds and bats, and don't look as obvious on the landscape because they lack the massive pinwheel design of the more common turbines.


Only one choice is sustainable. And it should be made against the backdrop of a painfully harsh reality: In five years, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned in November, the world will reach irreversible climate change.

Trump and the rest of Scotland's anti-wind coalition should consider the words of the 19th-century French writer Gustave Flaubert, a champion of objective reality over sentimentality, who famously declared, "The time for beauty is over. Mankind may return to it, but it has no use for the present." Though he was talking about the arts, his statement, made in 1852, applies rather well to today's necessary use of machines that Trump called "ugly monstrosities."



Scottish Government Press Release. "Fair Wind for Offshore Renewables." February 8, 2012. Accessed February 12, 2012.
Brown, Jonathan. "Cutting up rough: Trump and Salmond's love-in blown off course by wind farm plan." The Independent. February 11, 2012. Accessed February 12, 2012.
Press Association. "Donald Trump accuses Alex Salmond of wanting to destroy Scottish coast." The Guardian. February 9, 2012. Accessed February 12, 2012.
Carrick Gazette. "Ayr to host Scotland’s first anti-windfarm conference." November 10, 2011. Accessed February 12, 2012.
Etherington, John. The Wind Farm Scam. London: Stacey International, 2009. 16.
Stuart, Niall. "Letter to Scottish Press About Anti-Wind Farm Conference." Scottish Renewables. November 10, 2011. Accessed February 12, 2012.
Ibid., 4.
Ibid., 3.
Harvey, Fiona. World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns." The Guardian. November 9, 2011. Accessed February 12, 2012.
Flaubert, Gustave. Letter to Louise Colet, April 24, 1852. In Rutter, Benjamin. Hegel on the Modern Arts. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 120.

image: Donald Trump (credit: Kevin T. Gilbert, Creative Commons)