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'Greener Scotland' is sold down the river

Last modified: 03 November 2008

Dunes at Menie estate

The RSPB fears protected sites across Scotland could be vulnerable to developers after the Scottish Government granted planning permission for a huge golf course development in Aberdeenshire.

The decision to allow the proposed development by Trump International Golf Links Scotland to go ahead was greeted with dismay by conservationists.

It threatens a dune system on the Menie Estate and Foveran Links Site of Special Scientific Interest which, according to the Scottish Government’s own conservation advisor, Scottish Natural Heritage, will be destroyed by the development.

'We are surprised and extremely disappointed at this decision'

The development includes two 18-hole golf courses with clubhouse, a hotel with conference centre and spa, 950 holiday apartments, 36 golf villas and 500 houses on the Aberdeenshire coast.

Aedan Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland said: "We are surprised and extremely disappointed at this decision, which we believe is wrong both for Aberdeenshire and for Scotland.   

“By the Applicant’s own admission, reiterated at the Public Local Inquiry, the development will cause the destruction of a dune system, with its precious wildlife, on a site which is protected by law and should continue to be available for future generations to enjoy.

“We, and the thousands of other objectors, consider that this is too high a price to pay for the claimed economic benefits from this development.”

He added: "Trump International refused to explore the possibility of a development that would protect this unique natural asset and deliver a world class golf course.

“As a result RSPB Scotland commissioned a respected Scottish golf course architect to redesign the layout.  At the recent public inquiry, Trump International agreed that it would indeed be possible to deliver a world-class golf course and protect the SSSI but this was not what they wanted.

“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 which will undermine the whole protected sites network in Scotland.

"The fact that an alternative was available which would have delivered all of the economic and social benefits without causing any of the environmental damage demonstrates that the Scottish Government's so called green agenda counts for nothing at all."

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