26 Oct 2009

Caroline Lucas tells Donald Trump to tee off

The leader of the Green Party England and Wales, Caroline Lucas MEP, has urged the European Commission to launch a full investigation into American tycoon Donald Trump’s controversial plans to build a golf course and resort development on valuable ecological land in Aberdeenshire.

In a letter to the Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, the Green Euro-MP expressed concern that outline planning permissions for the development granted by Aberdeenshire Council could be in breach of European law on the environment and local planning.

Initial outline planning permission was granted to Trump by Scottish Ministers in December 2008 after the council rejected it. Five supplementary planning applications were made earlier this year and given the go-ahead a few weeks ago. A further application - to start work on transforming the Menie dunes into a golf course - is due to be considered by Aberdeenshire Council's Formartine Area Committee on Tuesday 27 October.

Dr Lucas MEP said:

"This proposed development will inevitably have a significant impact on valuable ecological sites in the area – in particular, on the dune habitat in the 1,400 acre site, which Scottish Natural Heritage has called 'the largest and most superlative example in north-western Europe' of a rare 'dynamic dune' system.

"The essential feature of this site - the continuous sand movement which then creates new dune slack habitat - will be completely compromised by stabilising the dunes to form a golf course. That stabilisation process could start within a fortnight if Aberdeenshire Council gives planning permission this week.

"The site itself is a listed Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under Scottish law. While the outline planning approval does impose a series of environmental checks and control, I am concerned that species and habitats listed in the Habitats Directive and the Wild Birds Directive may not be adequately protected if this development is allowed to go ahead."

"What’s more, important planning procedure seems to have been breached - and might be again this week. Permission for the development granted in 2008 was based on the conclusion that its benefits outweighed the major adverse environmental effects.

"Under EU law, an environmental statement should have been submitted for the five supplementary applications which have now been approved. This didn’t happen, so denying members of the public an opportunity to fully comment on the applications – and planning officers the chance to give proper advice on environmental impact and recommended mitigation.

"The application due to be considered by the Council this week is described as being for a Major Development, but it is not being decided according to the procedure stipulated for Major Developments.

"Aberdeenshire Council has a track record of ignoring due process and putting Donald Trump's interests ahead of both local residents and their own protected countryside. Any decision to allow work to begin on fixing the mobile dunes risks being a breach of the legislation, and I am therefore today urging the European Commission to intervene."

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