Donald Trump’s Battle of Balmedie, Scotland–Mass Tourism Style

Beyond Green Travel is a blog written by Global Travel Editor Costas Christ


What Donald Trump wants, he gets–but maybe not all of it this time. 

Since I first blogged last year about the struggle between
environmentalists and local residents opposed to Trump’s plans to build a
mass tourism development on an unspoiled stretch of Scottish coastline
(see my blog entry of July 4, 2008), the battle has become hotter,
grabbing the attention of the New York Times, who reported this month on
Trump’s progress in turning 1,400 acres of fragile natural habitat and
rural countryside in Balmedie, Scotland, into 950 vacation homes, two golf
courses, a 450 room hotel, 500 single-family houses, a conference center
and a golf academy. The only thing now standing in Trump’s way is not
investment money in these bad economic times (he recently boasted that he
sold a house in Palm Beach for $100 million) but rather, a local fisherman
named, Michael Forbes. 

Despite mounting pressure, Forbes has refused to
sell or move off of his 23 acre farm, where he has lived for 41 years and
which sits right in the middle of Trump’s mass tourism building site, which
also includes an ecologically sensitive area designated for migratory
birds. 

Seven local community officials who voted against Trump’s project
were declared “traitors" in news headlines and then overruled by the
Scottish Government. Martin Ford, the locally-elected Chairman who cast
the decisive vote against Trump’s plan, was ousted and stripped of his
chairmanship, causing him to lose half his annual income. And, after
refusing to give up his land to Trump, saying he would not move, no matter
who wanted him to, Michael Forbes has found himself subject to an odd
series of inspections from authorities who showed up at his home to see if
he was abusing his farm animals (he was not), if he had a proper license
for his shotgun (he does), and other similar random investigations. 

Trump, who usually flies into the area on his private jet and makes
statements, has called Forbes’ 23 acre coastal farm, a monstrosity that
ought to be cleaned up or condemned. But Forbes is not giving up his land
and home easily, if at all. Locals who understand the need for economic
development, particularly in hard economic times, have made the case that
this is not the right place for a project as big as what Trump plans. But
as I reported in my blog on January 13, 2009, government permission has
already been granted to Trump to proceed with his mega-tourism
development. Only Michael Forbes now stands in his way. This is Scotland,
where bravery is part of cultural heritage. Stay tuned.