Sand dunes at Donald Trump’s Scottish golf resort stripped of scientific protection

Area no longer has ‘special, natural features’ after construction of golf course

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - JULY 10:  Donald Trump plays a round of golf after the opening of The Trump International Golf Links Course on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland. The controversial £100m course opens to the public on Sunday July 15. Further plans to build hotels and homes on the site have been put on hold until a decision has been made on the building of an offshore windfarm nearby. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The striking sand dunes at Donald Trump’s Scottish golf course have lost their special environmental status.

Scottish heritage agency NatureScot said the dunes had been a “high quality example” of north-east Scotland’s natural beauty but the construction of the Aberdeenshire golf resort had changed that.

The dunes no longer “merit being retained as part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)”, NatureScot said.

Trump International Golf Links opened at Menie, north of Aberdeen, in 2012 to strong opposition from locals. Despite conservation work by the golf course management team to protect the rare habitats and plants on the site, NatureScot said: “There is now no longer a reason to protect the dunes at Menie as they do not include enough of the special, natural features for which they were designated.

"Trump International Golf Links Scotland have undertaken to deliver nature conservation management on the golf course and we value the work they have done to protect the remaining rare habitats and the rare plants on their site, however, they no longer have sufficient scientific interest to merit special protection."

Bob Ward, of London School of Economics’ climate change and research institute, was angered by the decision. “This is a bitterly disappointing decision which shows that golf still trumps the environment when it comes to Scotland’s natural heritage,” he said.

ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - JULY 10:  A general view of the third green during the opening of The Trump International Golf Links Course on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland. The controversial £100m course opens to the public on Sunday July 15. Further plans to build hotels and homes on the site have been put on hold until a decision has been made on the building of an offshore windfarm nearby. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Mr Ward, who has been closely following the environmental impact of Mr Trump’s course, said the news “opened the door to further harm to the remaining dunes from the construction of a second Trump golf course at the site”.

Scottish authorities have approved plans for another Trump International golf course alongside the existing one.

Scottish Green Party politician, Andy Wrightman, said the decision to grant planning permission for the project had been 'shameful" and claimed it provided little benefit for the local economy.

Sarah Malone, executive vice president of Trump International Scotland, said the decision by NatureScot was "highly politicised".
"Trump International's level of investment and ongoing care of the site far exceeds just about every other SSSI site in the country and yet, NatureScot singles us out and prioritises this decision during a global pandemic when the tourism and leisure industry is at its most vulnerable and is contending for its survival," she said.
"Regardless of their decision, we will continue to maintain the site to the highest standards."

The existing course and luxury hotel at Menie estate have not been profitable since opening.