17/12/2007

Scottish Government Plays Trump Card On Golf Project

There has been a further twist in the ongoing saga of the proposed £1bn Donald Trump golf development in Scotland.

It has emerged that Scottish Liberal Democrats are to call for an investigation into last week's decision to 'call in' the planning application for the project.

Already complicated by fresh plans being mooted to locate the golf resort in Co Antrim rather than Scotland – which first surfaced after NI First Minister Ian Paisley met the American billionaire property tycoon in New York last week - Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed that while not against the golf development, the authorities must "play by the rules".

After Aberdeenshire Council officials rejected Mr Trump's original controversial proposals for a huge golf complex and housing development, the Scottish local government stepped in to look at Trump's application amid concerns that Aberdeenshire Council's infrastructure services committee voting against would be the death knell of the huge project.

Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney "called in" the application - which means the local government would have the final say.

Also, the day before, First Minister Alex Salmond met members of the Trump Organisation - although the SNP leader has said this was done as part of his role as an MSP.

It has also been reported that Trump representatives were also with the government's chief planner during a phone call to the council on the issue.

Therefore the Scottish Liberal Democrats have called for the inquiry with their MSP Robert Brown set to lodge a motion in the Scottish Parliament today calling for a "commission" to investigate the decision to 'call in' the planning application.

If successful, the commission would have the power to quiz ministers and also see all documentation and transcripts relating to the matter.

The Liberal Democrats say such an inquiry would restore public confidence.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, Dr Paisley disclosed that Mr Trump knew that ministers in Northern Ireland would welcome investment and Mr Trump was actively considering relocating to Northern Ireland.

(BMcC)

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