Saturday 20 December 2014

Trump troubles: Now billionaire faces fight over windfarm near Clare golf resort

Gordon Deegan

Published 18/02/2014 | 02:30

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

AMERICAN billionaire and new owner of Doonbeg golf club, Donald Trump, may face more windfarm woes.

Mr Trump (inset) has long been fighting plans for an offshore windfarm near his links course in Scotland, only last week losing a UK court challenge preventing the windfarm from proceeding.

Now a firm has lodged plans for a nine-turbine windfarm, with turbines higher than Dublin's Spire, only 4km from Mr Trump's new resort property on Clare's west coast.

If the new plan proceeds a number of locals are to benefit, with 23 farmers due to receive an annual income through rental payments for the windfarm site from West Coastal Wind Power Ltd.

Last week it was revealed that Mr Trump had bought up the five-star Doonbeg Lodge and Golf Club for €15m.

Around the same time, the US billionaire ditched plans for a second course in Aberdeen after losing a legal battle to stop construction of an 11-turbine windfarm.

The straight-talking Mr Trump said that windfarms were making "people sick with the continuous noise".

'ABOMINATION'

"They're an abomination and are only sustained with government subsidy," he said in reference to Scottish windfarms.

Now, the businessman is faced with plans by West Coastal Wind Power Ltd for the 413ft turbines in Co Clare. The backers have confirmed that they will pay Clare County Council and the local community a combined €5m during the 25-year operation of the windfarm.

The 23 landowners who own the 155-acre site where the turbines are planned will receive an unspecified "annual payment which will allow them to continue subsistence farming".

The backers of the plan quote research into windfarms from Scotland stating that nine out of 10 tourists visiting some of Scotland's top beauty spots say the presence of windfarms makes no difference to the enjoyment of their holiday.

The nine-turbine plan is a scaled-down proposal of a 45- turbine plan that was turned down on a number of grounds last year by An Bord Pleanala.

The plan created bitter divisions in the Doonbeg community, and the golf club was one of the most vocal opponents.

Now the firm has lodged its fresh plans.

The windfarm is to be located 2km south of Doonbeg with the closest turbine more than 4km from the golf course.

General manager of the renamed Trump International Golf Links, Ireland, Joe Russell, was yesterday on leave and unavailable for comment.

Clare County Council is due to make a decision on the plan on March 30.

Irish Independent

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