As-it-happened: Donald Trump before Holyrood committee

Key points

  • US tycoon Donald Trump appeared before a Holyrood inquiry to say that the Scottish government's policy of promoting wind farms is a mistake.
  • The businessman is strongly opposing plans for an offshore development near the site of his new £1bn golf resort, in Aberdeenshire.
  • Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and his SNP government believe offshore wind is a vital part of Scotland's green energy drive.

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  1.  
    0938:

    Hello, and welcome to our live video and text coverage of the Scottish Parliament's Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee which is hearing evidence from US businessman Donald Trump.

     
  2.  
    0943:

    Mr Trump is expected to start answering questions from committee members at 10:00.

     
  3.  
    Information

    Mr Trump is appearing before the committee's inquiry into the Scottish government's green energy targets. The committee wants to know if ministers can achieve their goal of Scotland generating the equivalent of 100% of its own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020.

     
  4.  
    Information Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond isn't around at Holyrood today - he's in London to give a speech at an Institute of Directors event. Donald Trump's anti-wind farm comments, along with on-going questions to do with his relationship with Rupert Murdoch, raised at the Leveson Inquiry, means Mr Salmond doesn't have his work to seek right now.

     
  5.  

    FoE Scotland tweets: 93% of Scots polled are either more supportive or their views unchanged by Trump's comments on wind power

     
  6.  
    1004:

    Convener Murdo Fraser begins the session - laying out some ground rules and welcoming those in the public gallery. He asks for no clapping or booing from members of the public.

     
  7.  
    1005:
    Donald Trump Donald Trump starts his address to the committee

    Donald Trump makes his opening statement saying "it is one of the most serious problems Scotland will have or has had".

     
  8.  
    1006:

    Trump says he is in favour of wave renewable energy but he is against wind turbines.

     
  9.  

    BBC's James Cook tweets: Fair to say the other witnesses are not, so far, displaying the same theatricality as Donald #Trump.

     
  10.  
    1007:

    Trump says he has spent a tremendous amount of money building what many are considering the greatest golf course in the world. He does not want that destroyed by 11 monstrosities just one mile out at sea.

     
  11.  
    1008:

    Trump says wind is an inefficient source and energy and needs massive subsidy. He says Scotland will lose its tourism to Ireland and other countries that are "laughing at what Scotland is doing".

     
  12.  
    1009:
    Graham Lang Graham Lang delivers his opening address

    Now Graham Lang of Communities Against Turbines Scotland (CATS) speaks against wind turbines.

     
  13.  
    1010:

    Mr Lang says wind works only some of the time, it is expensive, it harms tourism. He adds that people sometimes say they like wind turbines "but they would not like to live near one".

     
  14.  
    1012:

    Mark Gibson of CATS now speaks against turbines. He says he wants to give a first-hand account of the impact it has had on his community in East Ayrshire. "Schemes to encircle our valley with a ring of steel," he said. "We are not a wind resource. This is our home."

     
  15.  
    Information

    What are the arguments?

    • Against wind energy: Mr Trump argues that wind power cannot survive without subsidies, adding that the appearance of turbines will kill off the tourism industry.
    • For wind energy: Ministers want to see Scotland generating the equivalent of 100% of its own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020.
     
  16.  

    To follow the debate live use the hashtag #trump

     
  17.  
    1020:
    Chic Brodie Chic Brodie quizzes those giving evidence to the committee

    SNP MSP Chic Brodie cites surveys showing support for wind farms. He also cites a letter from Mr Trump supporting wind farms. Can Mr Trump confirm his analysis which supports assertions against wind?

     
  18.  
    1022:

    Mr Trump says it is fine for wind farms in "industrial locations" but should not ruin the countryside with wind turbines.

     
  19.  
    1022:

    Mr Trump says tourist advertising always shows countryside without windmills. "Where are the windmills. It is false advertising." During a clash with Mr Brodie, Mr Trump retorts: "I am the world class expert on tourism - I am the evidence, I am the expert."

     
  20.  

    Scotbot tweets: Don't think Donald Trump grasps the point of windfarms. They have to be located where the wind blows. Not just in random industrial sites.

     
  21.  
    1024:

    Chic Brodie says he has talked to many tourism experts including golf courses who say wind farms will not affect tourism. Mr Trump says Royal Aberdeen golf course has been "decimated" by the citing of wind turbines and he should wait and see what the affect will be.

     
  22.  
    1029:

    SNP MSP Michael MacKenzie talks about Orkney, which is part of his Highlands and Islands constituency. He says Orkney has already met government targets for renewables without any impact on tourism. Mr Trump says Orkney has a "tiny population" and it is easier to site the odd "wind mill" appropriately.

     
  23.  

    Alasdair Soussi tweets: I quite like the look of Wind Turbines. (Is that a bad thing?) #trump

     
  24.  
    1032:

    Mr Trump tells the committee he spoke to a woman who has had a turbine built behind her house. She can't sleep because of the noise of the turbine and no one wants to buy her property.

     
  25.  
    1032:

    Mr MacKenzie talks about the "dancing ladies of Gigha", the first community wind farm. Mr Trump's right-hand man George Sorial says it was just three turbines. Mr Lang says turbines "embedded in to the local community" to provide benefit were acceptable.

     
  26.  

    Tattie scones tweets: Living in a community with a wind farm on my doorstep and love it. Come visit my community #trump and see what we have to say!

     
  27.  
    1036:

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie shows a picture of Royal St Georges in Kent which shows a coal-fired power station and a wind turbine. He says it has attracted a string of international tournaments over many years.

     
  28.  
    Analysis James Cook Scotland Correspondent, BBC News

    Donald Trump is not known for subtlety. With trademark hair and trademark chutzpah, he strides onto his golf course at the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire. "How's it looking?" I ask him. "The greatest in the world," is his simple reply.

    And, sculpted from shifting sand dunes, the course is impressive. But plans for a hotel and hundreds of homes on the site, near the village of Balmedie, north of Aberdeen, are on hold. The tycoon says he won't build them if a windfarm is constructed just offshore. Read more....

     
  29.  
    1039:

    Committee chair Murdo Fraser turns to Mr Trump and asks about his claim that "promises" were made to him by the Scottish government.

     
  30.  

    Amanda Boyle tweets: Torn! #Leveson and #Trump equally compelling. Who's in charge of scheduling?

     
  31.  
    1040:

    Mr Trump says he spoke to Jack McConnell, then first minister, about plans for a wind farm planned for near his proposed golf course in Aberdeenshire. Mr Trump said he was prepared to move to Ireland but he was given assurances that the wind farm would not be built because of shipping lane problems and Ministry of Defence issues. Mr Trump says Alex Salmond's government said the same things. Mr Trump says he has now had a letter from Alex Salmond which says: "The policies of one government do not bind its successor."

     
  32.  
    1043:

    Trump says he did not get his assurances put in writing because he did not think it was necessary. He was told the Ministry of Defence was against the Vattenfall wind farm off the Aberdeenshire coast, near his wind farm. He said the MoD is still against the wind farm.

     
  33.  
    1045:
    Trump golf course Work is continuing to build the Trump golf course

    Mr Trump says he has invested tens of millions of pounds in his almost 2,000 acres site. It is "magnificent" he said. "I want to build a hotel and I want to go further", he said. Mr Trump adds that the wind farm will be one-mile offshore. He said when he first got involved it was planned for 10 miles away. He said he was lured into an investment "and after I spent my money they came with this atrocious plan".

     
  34.  
    1047:

    Committee convener Murdo Fraser says former first minister Jack McConnell and Alex Salmond deny Mr Trump was ever given the assurances that the wind farm would not be built.

     
  35.  
    1048:

    Mr Trump says they are denying a lot of things. He adds that Mr Salmond appears today on the front pages of newspapers denying different things. [The reference here is to the FM's strong denialthat he lobbied the UK government over News Corp's plan to take control of BSkyB].

     
  36.  
    1049:

    Mr Trump repeats that he would have built his golf course in Ireland if he had know windmills would be built near to his existing golf course.

     
  37.  

    Kris Gilmartin tweets: They're not called windmills Donald - wind turbines #trump

     
  38.  
    1050:

    Patrick Harvie says Mr Trump bought the land in Jan 2006 but in Feb 2006 Scottish Development International was describing the wind farms as a "deal killer" for Mr Trump. Mr Trump said he got the assurances before he bought the land.

     
  39.  
    1052:

    Under questioning from SNP MSP Stuart McMillan, Mr Trump says there was talk about the wind farm before he bought the land. But he did not think the plans would go forward.

     
  40.  

    Neil Ross Hudson tweets: I dont care what anyone says @realDonaldTrump is building this hotel for 800+ jobs, and he's a good guy #Trump

     
  41.  
    1055:

    George Sorial of the Trump organisation describes the SDI's email to the Scottish government as "hearsay" and says it was "ridiculous" of Mr Harvie to ask Donald Trump about it.

     
  42.  
    1057:

    SNP MSP Maureen Watt says the wind farm off the Aberdeenshire coast was first proposed in 2002. George Sorial repeats that assurances were given by the first minister (Jack McConnell) that the offshore wind farm would not be built.

     
  43.  
    1058:

    Labour MSP John Park asks how to meet renewable targets without wind power. Mr Trump says Co2 targets are ridiculous when China is "decimating" the atmosphere. Mr Trump says China is doing so much damage to the atmosphere it is "foolhardy" of Scotland to ruin its economy by setting its targets. Mr Trump says Scotland is 20 years behind the times. He says wind farms are being abandoned all over the world. He says as soon as subsidies are removed they do not work.

     
  44.  
    Re-cap

    What has been said so far?

    • Donald Trump says he is in favour of wave renewable energy but he is against wind turbines. The American tells MSP he is the "world-class expert" on tourism.
    • Graham Lang and Mark Gibson, of Communities Against Turbines Scotland (CATS), say wind works only some of the time, it is expensive and it harms tourism.
    • Committee member Chic Brodie says he has talked to many tourism experts, including golf courses, who say wind farms will not affect tourism.
    • Mr Trump says he was given assurances from former FM Jack McConnell and current FM Alex Salmond that the wind farm proposal would not happen.
    • Committee convener Murdo Fraser points out to Mr Trump that the two men deny giving assurances.
     
  45.  
    1103:

    Gordon Lang of CATS says wind power is not an "alternative" because it does not work all the time. It is only a back-up power source. He mentions thorium fuel cycle nuclear power which he cites as a safer form of nuclear power. He says it is being researched around the world.

     
  46.  
    1105:

    Mark Gibson asks what the renewable energy target is for - is it for jobs? Mr Trump says all the jobs are going to China, which is manufacturing the wind turbines.

     
  47.  
    Information

    What is thorium fuel cycle nuclear power?

    • Thorium is an abundant radioactive element
    • It offers the prospect of producing power without the danger of reactor meltdowns
    • It also promises to reduce the enormous amounts of long-lived waste left behind by conventional nuclear power plants.

    The Chinese and Indian governments have advanced plans for thorium reactors, whilst French and British scientists are already developing the technology that can turn the theory into commercial reality. For more on the subject, listen to Julian Rush's Radio 4 documentary.

     
  48.  

    WWF Scotland tweets: #Trump myth. Wind doesn't create jobs. Renewables trade body 2012 report says the #renewables industry directly supports over 10,227 FTE

     
  49.  
    1106:

    SNP MSP Angus MacDonald says Norway is building more wind turbines. Mr Trump says that is not what he has heard. He said Spain had cut subsidies and it had destroyed the wind farm business model. Mr Trump said hydro-electric should be seriously studied by Scotland and cites the country of Georgia which is almost 100% hydro. It does not ruin the environment and it is a great form of energy, he says. Mr MacDonald says Scotland needs no lessons on hydro. Mr Trump says there is no need for a renewable energy mix, Scotland needs more hydro.

     
  50.  
    1112:

    Mr MacDonald says he comes from Lewis, the island on which Mr Trump's mother was born. He cites a poll on support for wind farms. Mr Trump says it is all about how a poll is worded. "Would you agree that very efficient wind mills should be built etc", he says of course people would say yes if asked like that. Mr Trump says you should ask the people affected by the industrial turbines. They would say no, he says.

     
  51.  

    Malcolm Harvey tweets: #Trump: "No one knows more about polls than me." Is there anything this guy ISN'T an expert in?!

     
  52.  
    1115:

    Mr MacDonald says the "over-whelming" vote for the SNP at the last election shows public support for the policy. Mr Trump says people have not been given the facts. He goes off the point and says it is the same type of thinking which led to Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi being returned to Libya because he was about to die. "He has been seen running about the park", Mr Trump claims.

     
  53.  
    1123:

    Labour MSP Claire Baker says fossil fuel power gets a greater subsidy than renewable. But Mr Gibson of CATS says that gas and coal provide much more power than wind.

     
  54.  
    1124:

    Mr Trump says wind turbines are machines, they don't last. He says they need replacing every five years. Who is going to pay for it, he asks? No-one ever answers that, he goes on. He adds, with emphasis, that there are plans for 9,000 (maybe more) wind turbines in Scotland.

     
  55.  

    BBC's David Miller tweets: Re comments from #Trump on need for more hydro. Former Scottish Power boss just told me we have no potential for big, new hydro schemes.

     
  56.  
    Background
    Donald Trump Donald Trump - the "showman"

    A writer for the US-based Forbes magazine profiled billionaire businessman Donald Trump, ahead of his appearance before the committee. Clare O'Connor told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that the American tycoon was the "ultimate showman".

     
  57.  
    1130:

    Mark Gibson of CATS makes a detailed plea for a review of the reasons for renewable technology. He said we need to establish beyond doubt what we are trying to achieve and the evidence for it.

     
  58.  
    1135:

    Mr Gibson is asked if he was against all turbines. He said he was totally unconvinced about what they could achieve.

     
  59.  
    1136:

    Mr Lang says farmers were inundating the planning process with applications for single turbines on their land.

     
  60.  
    Re-cap

    What is Mr Trump arguing against?

    • The US tycoon is against an application for 11 turbines off Aberdeen Bay, 2km (1.2 miles) from his golf resort.
    • The venture, by the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, is costing \u00a3150m and is a joint project by utility company Vattenfall, engineering firm Technip and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group.
    • The Scottish government said offshore wind was worth \u00a330bn of investment to Scotland, and could create up to 28,000 Scottish jobs.
     
  61.  
    1137:

    The session is coming towards its end and chair Murdo Fraser asks for four final contributions from MSPs.

    1. Stuart McMillan asks about renewable jobs.
    2. Patrick Harvie asks CATS if it denies the science of climate change.
    3. John Park says the Scottish people do not like being told what to do. He says Mr Trump's attack on wind power has been "counter-productive". He suggests instead of donating money to campaigning against wind power he should donate it to tackling fuel poverty on the isle of Lewis.
    4. Graeme Pearson MSP declares he has no family on the isle of Lewis. He feels he is in the minority in that respect.
     
  62.  
    1142:

    Mr Lang of CATS talks about climate change. He says he is puzzled. He does not know whether it is happening or not. He says the "jury is out".

     
  63.  
    1143:

    Mr Lang says one of the reason he does not like wind turbines is the "noise nuisance".

     
  64.  

    BBC's Scott Holdaway tweets: Police separating around 100 anti-windfarm & 30 pro-wind power protestors outside Holyrood, where #Trump has given evidence to MSPs. #sp4

     
  65.  
    1144:

    Mark Gibson of CATS on climate change: "We don't know. There is a lot of covering up. Why do that if you are sure of your ground?"

     
  66.  
    1147:

    The committee is approaching two hours in session. "We are running out of time," says convener Mr Fraser.

     
  67.  
    1148:

    Donald Trump says: "Climate change is not man-made". He adds: "You are spending billions of pounds unnecessarily and it will affect Scotland." On jobs he says they are being created in other countries. "The few jobs you will create will be offset with the jobs you will lose in tourism."

     
  68.  
    1149:

    Mr Trump says flagpoles were not approved on a building on his development because of the unacceptable visual impact. He said they are one-tenth the size of the wind turbines.

     
  69.  
    1150:

    Mr Trump says his project is potentially \u00a3750m. He says he will start building the hotel part of his plan - as soon as the wind farm is rejected.

     
  70.  
    1152:

    Committee chair Murdo Fraser brings the session to a close. He says he was tempted to ask if Mr Trump was thinking about putting an offer for Rangers football club but he did not have time. Mr Trump says: "I'll think about it", to much laughter in the chamber. Mr Fraser says that will be in tomorrow's papers! And then the session concludes.

     
  71.  
    1155:

    It is understood that Mr Trump will speak to the media before leaving the Holyrood building.

     
  72.  

    Jim Densham tweets: #trump. Has that added value to the #EET inquiry? I doubt it

     
  73.  
    1200:

    Stay with us for Mr Trump's press address. He is expected to speak in the committee room where he gave his evidence.

     
  74.  

    BBC's James Cook tweets: David Rodger of Vattenfall: "We are disappointed at the views he expressed on both the project and the renewable energy industry." #Trump

     
  75.  
    1208:

    Here we go with the press conference - the BBC's Glenn Campbell asks the first question.

     
  76.  
    1207:

    Mr Trump says he never uses the word "lie" but he was told the wind farms would not be built. He says he has witnesses.

     
  77.  
    1208:

    Mr Trump refers to a dinner with Alex Salmond in New York in October 2007 when they discussed wind farms. Mr Salmond talked about shipping lanes and MoD problems meaning the wind farm off the Aberdeenshire coast would not be built, Mr Trump said. He said at the time Mr Salmond was not as big a proponent of wind farms as he is now. Mr Trump said Mr Salmond was now "misguided".

     
  78.  
    1210:

    Mr Trump says he likes Alex Salmond. "I think he is misguided", Mr Trump says. Scotland will go broke when the UK stops subsidy, he says. "I have done Scotland a great service by bringing this up", he says.

     
  79.  
    2010:
    Baxter, documentary maker The documentary maker Anthony Baxter clashes with Mr Trump

    The director of controversial documentary "You've Been Trumped", Anthony Baxter, clashes with Mr Trump during the media conference in the Holyrood committee room. The pair raise their voices when discussing the environmental impact of the golf course Mr Trump has built.

     
  80.  
    1212:

    In reponse to further questioning, Mr Trump says he has a 93% approval rate for his golf course in the area.

     
  81.  

    Finlay Duncan tweets: #Trump just calls 'You've Been Trumped' a failed documentary - Mr Baxter, its director, reminds him it won 10 awards. This is a circus.

     
  82.  
    1214:

    Mr Trump says Alex Salmond "wanted me to come in very badly". He wanted me to come in and build it and he wanted the jobs, Mr Trump says. "But I was led to believe very strongly that the wind farm would not be built". But Mr Trump answers "no" to a question which asks if Mr Salmond offered to use his influence to ensure the wind turbines would not be built off the Aberdeenshire coast.

     
  83.  
    1217:

    George Sorial says the dinner with Alex Salmond took place sometime in October 2007 at a restaurant in New York. [The restaurant is not named by either Mr Sorial nor Mr Trump].

     
  84.  
    1218:

    Patrick Harvie says the dinner, when the assurances took place with Alex Salmond, was after he had purchased the land. Mr Trump says Jack McConnell, who was first minister in 2005 and 2006, also gave him assurances. Mr Trump does not say when the meeting with Jack McConnell took place.

     
  85.  
    1219:

    Why is the first minister denying that he gave assurances that the wind farm would not happen? Mr Trump says "I don't know," says Mr Trump. He says he thinks Mr Salmond should not deny it because giving the assurances was the right thing.

     
  86.  

    Joseph Hopkins tweets: I'm all for high profile businessmen bringing their interest to Scotland. But only under our conditions. Why should #Trump be different?

     
  87.  
    Re-cap
    • Mr Trump was one of four people who gave evidence to MSPs, in a one-hour 50 minute session at Holyrood.
    • The committee room has since been cleared and the media invited to question Mr Trump.
    • Journalists have been interested to know more about the "assurances" Mr Trump received from Former FM Jack McConnell and current FM Alex Salmond.
    • They have also been keen to know more about a dinner Mr Trump had with Mr Salmond in New York in 2008.
     
  88.  
    1223:

    Mr Trump says he would begin building the hotel and the houses on the golf course site as soon as the Vattenfall wind farm was rejected. Mr Trump repeats the flagpole story. A 70ft flagpole at a security building on the golf course was turned down by planning officials because it would be an "environmental disaster".

     
  89.  

    Eric Hamilton tweets: So #trump gets what he wanted, a load of free publicity for the opening of his golf course. Wonder if it will be live on telly? :-)

     
  90.  
    1224:

    Asked if Scotland was a good place to do business, Mr Trump says "it is too early to tell". He said he had enjoyed the experience of building the golf course. The quality of work has been phenomenal, he said. But he had been "misled" he said. "Hopefully being misled won't matter because that disaster which will ruin Aberdeen won't get built".

     
  91.  
    1226:

    Mr Trump says St Andrews and Turnberry are also objecting to plans for wind farms near by.

     
  92.  
    1227:

    What will happen to the golf course if the wind farm is built? Mr Trump says the course will open in July. It has been finished and it will open, he says. But it will not be all I envisioned it to be, he says. He says he will not build the hotel and houses facing the "industrial windmills". He says he will have to wait and see what impact the wind farms have on the success of the golf course.

     
  93.  
    1229:

    Returning to the New York meeting with Alex Salmond. Earlier 2008 had been mentioned, it is now clarified as October 2007 [five months after Mr Salmond became first minister]. Mr Trump had a number of people with him at the dinner. He could not say who was with Mr Salmond. Mr Sorial [Mr Trump's right hand man]confirms it was the SDI Global Scots dinner and Mr Trump said he accepted an invitation to attend which had been given to him from Mr Salmond.

     
  94.  
    1233:

    That's it for our live video and text coverage of Mr Trump's appearance at the economy, energy and tourism committee at Holyrood. Our pages have a round-up of the story and for more analysis watch Reporting Scotland on BBC One at 13:30.

     

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