Alex Salmond's green energy push has soured relations with the U.S. business mogul
LONDON—When Donald Trump unveiled plans in 2006 for a luxury golf course nestled among the dunes and beach grass of Scotland's east coast, he found an early ally in Alex Salmond —a proponent of Scottish independence from Britain, who saw the development creating jobs and tourist dollars.
Today, Mr. Salmond is Scotland's first minister. He is bolstering his pitch for independence with a promise to expand green energy, and one of his pet projects is a planned offshore wind farm 3 miles from—and, Mr. Trump says, in plain sight of—Trump International Golf Links.
The wind farm is now the subject of a judicial review that kicked off Tuesday at Scotland's top civil court in Edinburgh. Mr. Trump's lawyers are arguing the Scottish government should have held a public inquiry before granting consent for the offshore portion of the wind farm.
The relationship between Messrs. Trump and Salmond, meanwhile, has cratered. In the early days of the golf project, they appeared together smiling in photos at a fashion show in New York. In May, Mr. Trump called Mr. Salmond "Mad Alex" in a scathing column in a U.K. newspaper. He has labeled Mr. Salmond's green-energy push an "obsession" and the wind farm a potential "blight" on Scotland's blustery coastline.
He has also accused Mr. Salmond of assuring him at the time of his initial £750 million ($1.19 billion) investment that no windmills would be built within eyesight of the planned development. Mr. Trump is sole owner and developer of the resort.
" Alex Salmond has a death wish for Scotland, where he wants to put these horrendous industrial wind turbines all over the place," Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview last week.
Mr. Salmond has denied making any assurances about wind farms. He has long embraced green energy, including wind power, as an anchor of his independence drive, saying Scotland could be the "Saudi Arabia" of renewable energy.
Scotland votes next September in a referendum on independence. Exports of green energy, Mr. Salmond has said, will help secure much-need revenue for any new, independent government, once North Sea oil runs out.
U.S. business magnate Donald Trump at his luxury golf resort during a visit to the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, on June 20, 2011. European Pressphoto Agency
Mr. Salmond declined to comment. A spokesman said it wasn't appropriate to comment amid the legal proceedings, but he reiterated the government's commitment to the development of an offshore wind sector.
A judge is expected to rule on Mr. Trump's legal challenge next year. A decision in his favor could delay the £230 million wind project. George Sorial, executive vice president and counsel of Trump Organization, said that if the group is unsuccessful in Edinburgh, it will pursue the case further.
"At the end of the day we have to protect our investment," Mr. Sorial said.