AMERICAN billionaire Donald Trump is to finance an international campaign against the Scottish Government's keystone offshore renewable energy policy, after mounting an attack on Alex Salmond.
Such is the ferocity of his broadside against the First Minister, some have been left wondering whether it is a prelude to him withdrawing from his plans for a £750 million golf resort north of Aberdeen.
In a withering letter, he tells Mr Salmond that by encouraging the construction of offshore wind farms, "you will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than any event in Scottish history".
Later, in a radio interview, he said that included wars.
Mr Trump has been fighting against 11 off-shore turbines which he claims would spoil the views from his new championship golf course at Balmedie. He has already declared no more work will be done on his planned hotel, 950 holiday homes and 500 houses until the fate of the wind farm is decided. He has also demanded a public inquiry, and a decision is expected within four months.
However, in his letter to the First Minister, Mr Trump paints a wider canvas: "You seem hell bent on destroying Scotland's coastline and, therefore, Scotland itself". He says he could never support this "insanity".
"As a matter of fact I have just authorised a member of my staff to allocate a substantial amount of money to launch an international campaign to fight your plan to surround Scotland's coast with many thousands of wind turbines – it will be like looking through the bars of a prison and the Scottish citizens will be the prisoners," the letter adds.
Mr Trump says tourists would not suffer because there would not be any coming to Scotland because of the wind farm policy.
He questions the economic wisdom of Scottish ministers laying such store in wind energy: "For the record, taxing your citizens to subsidise wind projects owned by foreign energy companies will destroy your country and its economy. Jobs will not be created in Scotland because these ugly monstrosities known as turbines are manufactured in other countries such as China. These countries, who so benefit from your billions of pounds in payments, are laughing at you."
David Milne, whose house is next to the Trump golf course, said: "He certainly seems to have gone out of his way to pick a serious fight with the First Minister. Either that or the rant shows just how much control he thinks he has over this country."
The row came as the Government yesterday announced the £50m Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, aimed at accelerating the commercialisation of green technologies, would be headquartered at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.
A spokeswoman for the Government said an application had been received for the 11-turbine European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre and the views of consultees, interested parties and the public were being considered.
However, she did defend the renewables policy: "A recent study suggests harnessing just one-third of the practical resource off our coast by 2050 would enable us to generate enough electricity to power Scotland seven times over."
But opposition politicians were not so measured, with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie suggesting Mr Trump calm down. He said: "This letter is a rather desperate attempt by a rich man who is used to getting his own way, but his latest tizzy is embarrassing. Instead of the world laughing at Scotland, Scotland is laughing at Mr Trump."
Lewis Macdonald, Labour MSP for North-East Scotland, described it as "an extraordinary piece of political theatre".
He said many people supported the Trump plans, but that did not give him the right to veto other projects. Many also supported the offshore development.
Mr Macdonald added: "Alex Salmond needs to make a choice. The right choice for the north-east is to support the offshore renew-ables development – a crucially important industry for our part of Scotland. Alex Salmond will no doubt recognise bully-boy tactics are being applied to him, but I hope he will also recognise the right thing to do is to stand up to the bullies."
Niall Stuart, the chief executive of industry body Scottish Renewables, said: "Who is Donald Trump to tell Scotland what is good for our economy and environment? Offshore wind is already attracting billions of pounds of investment and supporting hundreds of jobs across Scotland, including in his mother's hometown of Stornoway."
Stan Blackley, the chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Donald Trump accuses the First Minister of being 'hell bent on destroying Scotland's coastline' yet fails to recognise he has caused more destruction to that coastline in recent years than any other individual."