Donald Trump has told the Scottish Parliament that wind farms will destroy tourism.
The outspoken businessman is giving his views to MSPs probing the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets.
Mr Trump is an outspoken critic of wind farms and bitterly opposes an offshore turbine development near the site of his golf course in Aberdeenshire.
He said: “This is a very, very serious problem that we are addressing. In my opinion, it is one of the most serious problems that Scotland will have or has had.”
He offered support to technologies such as wind and wave, but warned: “Wind turbines, made in China, are going to be the destruction – almost a total destruction – of your tourism industry.”
Mr Trump referred to a single turbine erected near the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club, saying that members were “blind-sided” by the planning application.
Turning to his own development at Menie estate, about 10 miles north of Aberdeen, he told MSPs: “I’ve spent a tremendous amount of money – debt-free, no debt on the property, nothing – building what many are already considering to be the greatest golf course anywhere in the world.
“I don’t want to see it destroyed by having 11 monstrosities built looming over it, literally one mile away.”
Despite it being an offshore turbine testing centre in the North Sea, Mr Trump said: “It’s actually land-based, it’s not sea-based, because when you’re talking about one mile you’re really talking about land-based. We don’t want this to happen.”
A survey for tourism body VisitScotland, published yesterday, found that four out of five people said wind farms do not affect their decisions over where to holiday in the UK.
Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, has defended his push for a “renewables revolution”.
In an earlier letter to Mr Trump, the First Minister told him: “It is my belief that Scotland’s great cities and ports are ideally placed to become a key hub for the rapidly growing multibillion-pound offshore renewables industry.
“Our waters are estimated to have as much as a quarter of Europe’s potential offshore wind energy and we are perfectly positioned to develop the technology that will power this remarkable renewables revolution.”
The Scottish Government wants renewable energy sources to meet the existing demand for electricity by 2020.
But Mr Trump went on to tell MSPs: “Many countries have decided they don’t want wind, because it doesn’t work without massive subsidies, it kills massive amounts of birds and wildlife and there are lots of other reasons.
“It’s a very inefficient form of energy, it’s an energy that when you need it most you don’t get it because the wind isn’t blowing when you need it most.”
He claimed the subsidies needed to support wind power developments were “enormous” and added that wind farms were “so unattractive, so noisy, so ugly and so dangerous”.
Mr Trump continued: “If Scotland does this, I think Scotland will be in serious trouble.
“You will lose your tourism industry to Ireland and lots of other places that are laughing at what Scotland is doing.”
However, SNP MSPs on the committee pressed Mr Trump on his belief that wind farms would damage the tourism sector.
Chic Brodie said there had been a 9% increase in tourism visits to Scotland last year and pointed to research by VisitScotland in which 80% of people in the UK said the presence of a wind farm would not affect their decision about where to stay when on a holiday or short break in Britain.
The South of Scotland MSP asked the US tycoon what analysis he had that “supports the assertions you have made against wind”.
But Mr Trump insisted he was “an expert on tourism”.
He told MSPs: “I have won many many awards over the last short period of time, let alone long period of time. My clubs are rated amongst the best in the world.
“I am an expert on tourism. If you dot your landscape with these horrible, horrible structures, you will do tremendous damage.”
Mr Brodie demanded Mr Trump produce “clinical evidence” to support his views.
However, the American insisted: “I am the evidence. I am an expert in tourism, I am considered a world-class expert in tourism, so when you say where is the evidence, I am the evidence.”
However, Mr Brodie told him: “I think this has probably got more to do with property values, having looked at your accounts to the year end 2010.
“I think property values have a lot to do with it.”
The Nationalist MSP also pressed Mr Trump on the impact of turbines on golf courses.
Mr Brodie said he had spoken to the secretary of the Royal St Georges golf course at Sandwich in Kent, which has a wind farm seven miles away, and added: “The view is it will not affect the golf there at all.”
But Mr Trump said: “We will see what happens.”
He added that the Royal Aberdeen course had been “decimated”, saying: “It’s not going to hold any more championships, it can’t hold any more championships.
“There won’t be tournaments there, there won’t be championships there. One of the great jewels of Scotland has been devastated and, I know this, the people at Turnberry are fighting like mad not to have the windmills built. They are fighting like mad.”
Mike MacKenzie, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, also pressed the US tycoon on the impact that wind farms would have on tourism.
He said the Orkney Islands already produced 100% of their electricity requirements from onshore wind power, but that the landscape there was “not overburdened” with turbines and tourism was growing.
But Mr Trump said he understood that Orkney had a “tiny” population and added: “Where you have a tiny population, a couple of windmills can do something.”
He said that without UK subsidies for the wind power developments, “Scotland would go broke” funding them.
Mr Trump argued: “If you pursue this goal of these monsters all over Scotland, Scotland will go broke. As sure as you are sitting there, Scotland will go broke.
“They are being subsidised massively right now by the UK and without that subsidy, if the UK decided they are not going to further subsidise all these windmills, Scotland will go broke.”
He went on to say that “most of the important major golf courses and most of the tourist areas are fighting this like mad”.
Mr Trump said: “Smart areas that want to remain beautiful and want to remain viable as a tourist area are fighting the industrial turbines looming over their properties.”
He went on to say that a female member of his staff had come to see him and was “devastated” because a small turbine had been put up near her home.
“She can’t sleep at night because of the noise. She came to me ‘What do I do, nobody wants to buy my house?’.
“This is happening by the tens of thousands all over Scotland.”
George Sorial, executive vice president of the Trump Organisation, said if the First Minister “gets his way” another 8,000 to 10,000 wind turbines would be erected.
He told MSPs: “It’s not necessarily what you have now, it’s what you propose to build over the next four to five years to achieve your renewable goals.”
Committee convenor Murdo Fraser turned to Mr Trump’s written submission to the committee, which said: “Scotland, at the very highest ministerial level, encouraged with overwhelming promises, public statements and various offers to support,” when he took the decision to build his golf course in the north east.
Mr Fraser said: “Can I ask you, what were these promises that were made to you, when were they made, and who made them?”
Mr Trump told the committee he had been planning to buy the land for the development when he heard of the proposed wind farm nearby.
He said: “If you remember – and there was a big hoopla – I was going to go and I was going to build in Ireland, because of the fact that the wind farm was going to be built fairly near our course in Scotland.
“Jack McConnell (the then first minister) said it won’t be built, and his people were telling George (Sorial) and my people it won’t happen – the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would never approve it because it had something to do with the radar and there was something about the shipping lanes, especially because it’s near Aberdeen – they said it won’t happen.
“It was very prevalent for a short period of time and then it totally disappeared. Based on that – nothing in writing, but based on that – I decided I’ll go forward.”
Mr Trump said Mr Salmond, who became First Minister in May 2007, had also “poo-pooed” the wind farm development, saying there was an MoD problem and “all sorts of shipping lane problems”.
He added: “Now I’ve invested tens of millions of pounds, I’ve completed my site ahead of schedule. I’ve built something that even my enemies say is the most spectacular.
“After I’ve invested this tremendous amount of money, all of a sudden this really obnoxious and ugly wind farm appears – which is worse than a wind farm because there is going to be all these different looking windmills.
“It’s going to look like Disneyland – except a bad version of Disneyland.”
Mr Trump said he “felt betrayed” because he had invested his money because of statements that had been made to him.