It's not every day that a billionaire real estate mogul gets walloped by a crew of elderly country folk. But that's what happened in Scotland last month when a local council committee in Aberdeenshire rejected Donald Trump's plan to build two championship golf courses, around 1,000 homes, a luxury hotel and 36 opulent golfing villas on Scotland's Northeast coast at Balmedie, just north of Aberdeen.
The Donald's confidence had been high that the development would come to fruition, having seen an earlier panel agree to the plan. With characteristic understatement, he had been quoted as saying: “It will be the greatest golf course in the world.”
Instead, the proposed deal stirred up the greatest controversy in Aberdeenshire in years. Environmental groups and some local residents claimed that the resort would have a major impact on wildlife and destroy the local landscape, which had been untouched for centuries. As opposition built, requests were made to scale down the residential aspect of the development. But Trump wouldn't budge, making it clear from the start that there was no room for negotiation on the plan. The local press insinuated that Trump's brash business style didn't go down well in this corner of Scotland either.
Not that plenty of locals weren't gunning for the project. Such was the emotion around the vote that an Aberdeenshire councilor who voted against the plan says she was later assaulted at her home by a vengeful local Trump supporter.
Trump's project manager, George Sorial, was reportedly visibly angry after the decision and threatened to take the whole development to another country, telling Reuters, “The message is that if you want to do big business, don't do it in the northeast of Scotland.”
At press time, Scottish lawmakers had backed efforts to save Trump's plan by agreeing to review his rejected application.