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Trump in new golf course row ... in US

In an uncanny replay of the controversy that dogged his plans in Aberdeenshire, Donald Trump has become embroiled in another heated row over a golf resort damaging the environment ...

Donald Trump at the site of his golf course resort at Balmedie in Aberdeenshire, which prompted widespread opposition. The US tycoon is now embroiled in a similar fight in the US
Donald Trump at the site of his golf course resort at Balmedie in Aberdeenshire, which prompted widespread opposition. The US tycoon is now embroiled in a similar fight in the US

but this time it is in the United States.

The billionaire property tycoon's proposal for a new "world-class" golf course in Albemarle County, Virginia, has run into fierce opposition from environmental groups.

The campaigners are using the Scottish experience to back their case. Last week, they organised a showing in Charlottesville of the prize-winning Scottish documentary, You've Been Trumped. Trump unsuccessfully took legal action to try to prevent the film being screened by the BBC last year.

The campaigners in America say the development will breach a conservation designation meant to protect the area and that it will damage the unique historical and rural nature of the region. The area includes Monticello, the mountaintop home of the third US president, Thomas Jefferson.

Trump is proposing an 18-hole "luxury" golf course and car park on a 217-acre area of land in Albemarle County which he bought in 2011, and on which he has already opened a vineyard. But the site is protected under US law by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation because of its natural and historical importance.

The foundation has released a letter it wrote to Trump in September pointing out that the proposed development was unlikely to comply with the site's conservation designation.

"We seriously doubt that a golf course can be developed," stated its executive director, Brett Glymph.

A local group, The Piedmont Environmental Council, has expressed concerns about increased traffic, water use and pollution.

"The thousands of potential visitors to the golf course and planned large-scale events venue will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the surrounding properties and rural landscape that is such an iconic part of Albemarle County,'' said the council's Jeff Werner.

Another US group, the Southern Environmental Law Centre, is also opposing Trump's plans.

In order to go ahead with the golf course, Trump has to win a "special use permit" from the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. Its planning commission is due to hold a public hearing later this month.

According to a statement from the Trump Organisation, it is planning a "world-class 18-hole links-style public golf course" to be known as Trump National Golf Club, Charlottesville. It says a golf course has been built in the area in the past.

The development will not breach the conservation designation for the area, known as an easement, and will not make "any significant changes to the character of the property", the statement says. "It is a priority and the Trump way to be mindful of the environment in this process."

George Sorial, the Trump Organisation's executive vice-president and legal counsel in New York, defended the plan. ''Our Virginia project has nothing to do with our Aberdeenshire project and it is ridiculous to draw a parallel between the two," he told the Sunday Herald.

"The conservation easement specifically allows for a golf course. In fact, the property had a golf course on site prior to the Trump ownership."

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