New showdown threatens Trump's Scottish golf plan

Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:07am EDT
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By Tom Bergin

BALMEDIE, Scotland (Reuters Life!) - A few paces from Moira Milne's front door, the gorse-covered hillside descends sharply toward heather beds that give way to sand dunes topped with sparse whiskers of grass.

As Milne approaches the edge of the bank, a young deer darts through the heather below. Beyond the 10-meter high dunes, part of a protected nature reserve, the North Sea is calm and blue.

"You can see why we don't want Donald Trump pushing us out," she says, admiring the view.

A year ago, against the wishes of the local council, the Scottish government gave Trump permission to build a 1 billion pound ($1.63 billion) luxury housing and golf development on the Menie estate, which includes the dunes, 10 km north of Aberdeen.

Now the New York-based real estate mogul has changed his plans and says he needs five adjoining properties, including Milne's home, and has threatened to pull out if the local council doesn't compel the owners to sell.

Some locals think the land grab is aimed at providing Trump with a face-saving way to exit a project that, after the global financial crisis, no longer makes economic sense.

"He's looking for a way out and he'll blame me," said Michael Forbes, standing in front of his barn which is daubed with large red and orange letters proclaiming "No Golf Course" and "No more Trump lies." Forbes' 23-acre farm is one of the properties targeted.

STARK CHOICE   Continued...

<p>Donald Trump attends the Aberdeenshire Council inquiry into his plans for a golf resort, Aberdeen, northeast Scotland on June 10, 2008. REUTERS/David Moir</p>