Well, that’s him telt, then. With a missive to the First Minister almost ex cathedra in its imperiousness, Donald Trump has announced to the world his intention to fight the scourge of windfarms wherever they may be - but especially if they be visible from his golf course.
Mr Salmond has so far kept his counsel on Mr Trump’s outburst - something he’s wise to do, since one of his Ministers may yet end up adjudicating on the plans. However, not content with running off at the mouth about wind energy in general, Mr Trump has also let it be known that should the Aberdeen Bay offshore development go ahead, he’ll be reconsidering plans to build a hotel and houses at Menie.
Firstly, let me say a few words in defence of Mr Trump. He and his people are big on their ‘brand’. He takes a close interest in the Menie project - having spent millions of pounds so far, he understandably wants it to be ‘just so’ in every respect. As such, he’s as entitled as anyone to express a view on the Aberdeen Bay project.
Mr Trump is also a businessman, who since it’s his own money he’s investing, will be better aware than most that now is not a great time to be investing in housing and hospitality in Europe. There are other golf developments which in the current downturn have proceeded too far and too fast. Windfarm or not, he will be determined not to find himself in the same situation.
Yet for all the sound and fury, we’ve never heard anyone from Trump say for definite that the project will be cancelled, nor I suspect will we. He’s doing what any negotiator would try and do, albeit through a megaphone - use a natural delay in the project as leverage to try and win concessions over the windfarm. If he wins, then from his point of view, great. If he doesn’t, he can still go ahead once the economy picks up, saying that he’s only meeting the demand that people have to be around, what without too much hyperbole, is genuinely going to be one of the world’s greatest courses.
A suspicion remains that Mr Trump may just be looking for a way out. Only he can say whether or not that is the case. However, there’s a few things for certain - there’s a shortage of hotel accommodation in the North East generally and people earning big salaries in the energy industry, whether oil or renewables, want nice houses to live in. If Mr Trump decides that he doesn’t want to be a part of that, bet your boots that someone else will.
Alex Salmond can look after himself and will doubtless be quite relaxed about this latest outburst. He wants to secure investment for Scotland, certainly, but will be in no doubt that however significant Mr Trump’s dollars are, renewables and the jobs they bring are worth far more long-term to the North East than one golf course, no matter how special. If by some misfortune his invitation to the opening got lost in the post, I’m sure he’d find a way to get over it.