31,000 sign petition against second Trump Organisation course

Campaigners have handed councillors a petition signed by 31,000 people opposed to the Trump Organisation's plans for a second golf course in Aberdeenshire.

Proposals were submitted by the Trump Organisation for a second 18-hole course at Balmedie in 2015, three years after the first one opened.

Members of campaign organisation 38 Degrees presented the petition to Isobel Davidson, chair of Aberdeenshire's Formartine Area Committee in Ellon on Tuesday.

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Campaigners said a recent 38 Degrees/Survation poll found that of those who expressed an opinion, 68% said the course's planning application should be rejected by Aberdeenshire Council.

When "don't knows" are included in the figures, 53% said they are opposed to the course, 25% supported it and 22% don't know.

Stewart Kirkpatrick, head of Scotland for 38 Degrees, said: "Today's hand-in, the huge petition and our crowd-funded opinion polling are clear evidence of strong public opposition to the Trump Organisation's plans for a new course.

"After the first course failed to deliver the promised investment and jobs bonanza, Scots now feel the new plan just won't bring economic benefits to the area. They don't think the first course should have gone ahead and they certainly don't feel this one should.

"Does Aberdeenshire Council really want to give a vote of confidence to this man?"

The online poll of 1,029 people in Scotland was undertaken by Survation on behalf of 38 Degrees in January.

Donald Trump on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Donald Trump on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Sarah Malone, executive vice president of Trump International Golf Links, Scotland, said: "The figures presented are nonsense. The argument to build world-class golf and leisure facilities at Menie Estate was fought and won 10 years ago, which included a second golf course.

"Planning consent has already been granted and the project continues to attract great support. A number of independent reports have concluded that Trump's world-class golf course has brought significant economic benefits to the tourism industry and put Aberdeenshire on the world map.

"Nothing has been lost and the leisure and tourism sector has everything to gain. The detractors who make these ignorant and false statements should be ashamed. At a time when the North East of Scotland is so focused on the diversification of its economy, the Trump investment and future plans have never been more critical."

Aberdeenshire councillors have still to make a decision on the planning application.

Robert Gray, Aberdeenshire Council's head of planning and building standards, said: "The deadline for representations to be made to this particular application was November 26 2015 and so this petition will not formally be considered when councillors discuss it.

"The planning service is however aware of the petition and if there is anything new within it which ought to be considered as part of the application, this will be done.

"Members of the public have 21 days from the date of publication of this type of application to make representations, which will only be considered as part of the decision making process if they relate to a material planning consideration."