Perpetual punchline Donald Trump just opened a new golf course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, that purportedly cost some 100 million British pounds (roughly $155 million in US dollars). Trump commemorated the occasion by teeing off with famed Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie and continuing his impressive campaign of pissing off pretty much every local citizen by skirting environmental concerns and doing anything he pleases. The Guardian was there for the grand opening:
[Trump and Montgomerie] enthused about the quality of the course, built across a stretch of stunning land overlooking the North Sea, some of which had been designated a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) because of the way the dunes moved northwards over time. Trump claims to have stabilised the land to create the "greatest golf course in the world".
David Milne, a neighbour who has led campaigns against the project, said the SSSI should be renamed an SEED – a site of extreme environmental destruction. The Golf Environment Organisation, which vets courses and is backed by the European Tour, complained of the course's "considerable negative impact on what was one of the UK's most valuable mobile sand dune systems".
But that did not stop Trump denying there were any protesters, declaring after the first nine holes: "The environmentalists love what I have done."
A second question about the environmental impact saw the billionaire shepherded by an aide away from the media and towards the VIP refreshment tent.
Evidently, there could be even more development to come, pending the approval of some offshore alternative energy solutions, something that doesn't exactly please Trump.
A public inquiry to win permission to build the course means the opening was three years behind schedule, and plans for a clubhouse, hotel and villas rest, according to Trump, on whether the Scottish government approves an offshore windfarm and whether there is an upturn in the economy. Trump took a swipe at windfarms, labelling them "ridiculous monsters" that would "destroy Scotland".
As Trump's children, Donald junior, Ivanka and Eric teed off with the rest of the guests, local opponents fumed. Milne, who lives in a former coastguard station overlooking the course, has resisted Trump's attempts to buy him out, but is now forced to live behind a row of tall spruce trees planted on Trump's orders at the edge of his property which screen off his once spectacular view of the dunes and the sea. "When I saw the trees going in, the emotion was near total fury because I knew there was nothing I could do," he said.
Trump ordered the planting after telling an aide: "I want to get rid of that house". In an exchange captured in the US TV programme Donald Trump's Fabulous World of Golf, he said: "It's our property, we can do what we want. We are trying to build the greatest course in the world. This house is ugly."
Other locals who refused to sell to Trump have also been built around. One local woman now gets to look at a wall of sand all day long and glaring lights all evening.
Not more than 100 metres from the clubhouse, Susan Monro also refused to sell and Trump has piled an 8 metre high sand berm around her house, blocking her sea views. Huge gates have been erected at the end of her lane and she complains Trump's security staff shine lights into her home at night.
"I used to be able to see all the way to the other side of Aberdeen but now I just look into that mound of sand," she said. "It is the same all the way round. It is awful that a foreigner can come in here and do that. The government should hang its head in shame. He says 'I don't want to see you your houses', well, I don't want to see your golf course."
Back on the course as Trump prepared to tackle the back nine, he was defiant.
"Nothing will ever be built around this course because I own all the land around it," he said with a smile. "It's nice to own land."
Here's video of Trump being his usual dickish self, if you want to get the full effect.
Donald Trump opens £100m golf course [UK Guardian]