DONALD Trump's golf business has accused Scotland's nature watchdog of a "politically-motivated stitch-up".

The BBC on Friday revealed that Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) was set to strip sand dunes at Mr Trump's Menie course near Aberdeen of their environmentally protected status.

Experts, the broadcaster reported, believe development at the course, called  Trump International Golf Links, had "destroyed" the eco-system and that it therefore no longer required official recognition as a site of special scientific interest or SSSI.

Trump International, now managed by the US President's family, said: "This is an utter disgrace and shows SNH has hit an all time low. To make an announcement to the media before informing us, the actual landowner, shows how politically-motivated this decision is. What other SSSI landowner is singled out in this way.

"It's a stitch-up.

"Before Donald Trump invested in the site, SNH had little interest in the SSSI at Foveran Links and did even less about it, and has barely been on property since.

"Trump International funds a team of leading geomorphological consultants, ecologists and environmental experts and has spent millions on the care, protection and maintenance of the small area of SSSI in Scotland that it owns and yet SNH has offered no support, guidance or help.

"All this government agency wants to do is score political points and undermine that investment, custodianship and environmental management. No other SSSI site in the country has been afforded the amount of funding or expertise that Menie has and continues to receive."

READ MORE: Donald Trump Organisation reveals next phase of development at Menie

BBC Scotland cited Sally Thomas, SNH's director of people and nature, saying there was nothing to protect at Menie.

She told the broadcaster: "The denotification of SSSIs is unusual, however in this case we have found there is no longer a reason to protect the dunes at Menie as they do not include enough of the special, natural features for which they were designated."

"Most of the time, development can take place without damaging important natural features, but this was not the case in this instanMost of the time, development can take place without damaging important natural features, but this was not the case in this instance."

SNH said evidence showed around a third of the special habitats at the Menie section of the Foveran SSSI had been damaged.
"The remainder of the habitats in the Menie area have been significantly fragmented, and ecological processes disrupted," it said.

Following the consultation the remaining SSSI at Foveran Links are expected to be merged with the adjacent Sands of Forvie and Ythan Estuary SSSI.."

READ MORE: Dynamic dune pose problem at Trump links

The dunes at Menie, called the Foveran Links, are one of the country's best examples of a dynamic, or moving sand ecosystem. The Trump International course, originally pitched as a £1 billion investment, was opposed by environmentalists from the outset.

It was given the go-ahead more than a decade ago by the Scottish Government, which issued a statement saying: "Scottish ministers approved the Menie Golf Resort application in 2008 in line with the recommendation of the three independent Reporters which was that overall the economic and social benefits of the proposal justified the adverse environmental impacts caused."