Sunday, November 30, 2008

Birth of a Golf Course; Death of a Rare and Ecologically Sensitive Stretch of Dunes

Balmedie country park, Aberdeenshire, Scotland: Sunset over the coastline
Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty
What you are looking at is a rare and ecologically-sensitive stretch of dunes overlooking the North Sea at Balmedie country park in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is also about to be destroyed by lavish developments meant for the privileged few. Soon the only way this wonder of nature will be able to be enjoyed in its entirety will be in media form: photos, film, or some other printed matter.

What and who are powerful enough to convince a country to set aside a portion of the legal protection of this amazing; yet, fragile site in order to allow this project to begin?

The what is the game that was named after one of the club’s most important regulations: Gentlemen Only – Ladies Forbidden or GOLF. The who is the billionaire property developer with Scottish roots, Donald Trump.

Against all odds, Donald Trump won permission to build “the world’s greatest golf course”, complete with high-rise timeshare flats (apartments) and an eight-storey hotel. Despite the outcry from environmentalists and many local residents, Scottish ministers in Edinburgh confirmed that Trump’s dream of creating one of golf’s most northerly resorts could now get underway.

Trump’s dream is to build a £1 bn ($2 bn Cdn) coastal resort north of Aberdeen, Scotland which will cover 2,000 acres (809 hectares). His vision includes two 18-hole championship courses, four blocks of 950 timeshare flats, 500 “exclusive” homes, 36 villas, a golf academy and housing for 400 staff. There will also be a coast road named (***surprise***) Trump Boulevard.

The site he has chosen for this project is the Menie Estate which backs against some of the Foveran Links – a stretch of naturally-shifting sand dunes that are home to some of the country’s rarest wildlife, including skylarks, kittiwakes, badgers and otters. An environmentalist's dream literally in their own back yard. The resort's guests would have had the opportunity to view some of the rarest wildlife and shifting-sand dunes; while, not impacting the ecologically-sensitive area.

But wait...while Trump was obviously able to do what he wished on the Menie Estate itself, the permission he had fought so long and hard to obtain was the right to build nine of the eighteen holes of one course over one-tenth of the environmentally-protected Foveran Links.

At this point, it all seems very clear to me. The Foveran Links are ecologically-sensitive dunes legally protected against any and all harm. Neither Donald Trump nor anyone else is ever allowed to build on that land. Case over; move along; next case, please!

However, money talks and there are always those who are willing to put aside all concerns (including environmental) in the name of the almighty dollar.

The decision to remove the government protection from one-tenth of the dunes was welcomed by the local constituency, the first minister and leader of the Scottish National party, Alex Salmond, as well as numerous business and tourism groups which regard it as a boost to the regional economy.

Salmond, said, "In tough economic times, substantial investment of this kind is at a premium - 6,000 jobs, including 1,400 which will be local and permanent, is a powerful argument. It is entirely right and proper that the resources of the country are harnessed to boost one of our great industries, and tourism is a great Scottish industry."

Trump said: "It will be a tremendous asset and source of pride for both Aberdeenshire and Scotland for many generations ... because of the quality of the land we are given to work with, we will build the greatest golf course in the world."

Next blog: At what cost environmental encroachment and WHO is the man in the picture below?

Balmedie: Fisherman Michael Forbes refuses to sell his land to make way for the development
Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty


Mberenis said...

Timeshares & Rentals...I have done plenty of research about selling timeshares, check out my blog =)


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