Trump Organization must pay $290K over wind farm fight

Source: By Lesley Clark, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2019

 Donald Trump. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

President Trump’s continued war against wind power is costing him more money.

The Trump Organization will pay the Scottish government nearly $290,000 after losing a yearslong legal battle to stop wind turbines from being built in the North Sea near a Trump-owned golf course. The agreement to pay the government’s legal fees comes nearly four years after Trump lost a case against an experimental wind farm being built close to his golf resort in Aberdeenshire.

At the time, Trump testified in front of the Scottish Parliament, declaring himself a “world-class expert in tourism” and charging that “turbines built in China” would destroy the Scottish tourism industry. And he complained that the turbines would ruin the view from his golf course.

His lawyers charged that a “small-minded and parochial mentality” was driving the Scottish government’s “dangerous experiment with wind energy.”

But the Scottish courts sided with the government, with one ruling in February that the Trump Organization was liable for the government’s costs. A spokesman for the government confirmed yesterday that a settlement had been reached.

“Expenses amounting to £225,000 will now be paid to Scottish Ministers by the petitioners,” said the spokesman in a statement first obtained by The Scotsman, a Scottish newspaper. The Scotsman noted that had the matter gone further, additional fees may have been applied.

The Trump Organization did not reply to a request for comment.

The 11 turbines near Trump’s golf course began spinning in July 2018 as part of a major push by the country, which hopes to supply 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Yet the matter is likely to do little to shift Trump’s public criticism of wind turbines.

He has claimed they cause cancer and that they slaughter birds. The American Cancer Society has dismissed his claim, and wind industry officials say they have developed ways to minimize bird strikes, including better siting and the use of technology.

Speaking in May to workers at a Louisiana liquefied natural gas facility, Trump accused his Democratic presidential challengers of embracing the Green New Deal and wind power, “even though it kills all the birds” (Energywire, May 20).

He continued, “You want to see a bird cemetery? Go under a windmill sometime. … You got every type of bird. You know, in California, you go to jail for five years if you kill a bald eagle. If you go under a windmill, you see them all over the place.”

At a National Republican Congressional Committee fundraising dinner in April, he said that windmills cause property values to plummet and that the “noise causes cancer.”

He repeated the claims at an August campaign rally in Ohio, saying the turbines “make noise, they’re intermittent, they kill your birds, they break down all the time, you have to replace them every 10 years because they wear out, they cost a fortune, and they need subsidy. Other than that, they’re quite good.”

At the Group of Seven summit in August, he also dismissed the notion that renewable power such as wind energy could help curb climate change.

“I’m not going to lose that wealth on dreams, on windmills, which, frankly, are not working all that well,” he said.

Yet many of his top energy officials don’t see it that way (Greenwire, Aug. 28).

“This administration has proven that we can pursue renewable energy advancements and deployment, particularly wind energy resources, which are predicted to surpass other sources of renewable power generation this year,” Undersecretary of Energy Mark Menezes said in a press release three days earlier, touting a new report on wind energy.

The Scotsman noted Trump at one point during his legal battle against the North Sea turbines called the project “useless and grotesque” and vowed to fight as long as he could.

“I am going to fight him for as long as it takes — to hell if I have to — and spend as much as it takes to block this useless and grotesque blot on our heritage,” Trump wrote, referring to Scotland’s then-First Minister Alex Salmond.

Trump vowed to protect the golf course and the memory of his mother, who was born on Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.

“By exposing the fallacy and danger of wind turbines, I will be honouring Mary MacLeod’s memory in an even more important way than building the greatest golf course anywhere in the world,” he wrote.