The Scottish Government has intervened and called in Donald Trump's application for a £1 billion golf resort after it was rejected by local planners.

The property tycoon's plans were controversially knocked back last week by an Aberdeenshire Council committee.

A statement from the Scottish Government said: "Ministers recognise that the application raises issues of importance that require consideration at a national level.

"Calling the application in allows ministers the opportunity to give full scrutiny to all aspects of this proposal before reaching a final decision."

The move comes as Trump's lawyers revealed they were now considering moving the plans to Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Ian Paisley was tonight making contact with Mr Trump about the possibility of him relocating plans for the resort to the province.

Officials from Mr Paisley's and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness's department were in touch with Mr Trump during a visit to New York about the possibility of relocating the project to Co Antrim.

As he attended a reception in the New York Athletic Club off Central Park, Mr Paisley confirmed that the Stormont power-sharing executive was keep to talk to the businessman.

"We have put the calls out that we are willing to talk to him," the Democratic Unionist leader confirmed.

"Of course we welcome any one who wants to invest in Northern Ireland and who has an interest, in creating jobs, making money and developing our tourist industry."

However, Mr Trump was tonight said to be "very impressed" with the move by the Scottish government.

Neil Hobday, his project manager in Scotland, said: "Mr Trump has been told and he is very impressed with the ministers.

"We obviously welcome this decision, it is a very good and brave decision.

"It is of national importance and reflects the outcry after last week's appalling decision by the council committee."

A Scottish government spokesman said tonight: "My understanding is for it to be called in at this stage is unprecedented."

It is also likely that finance secretary John Swinney will ultimately take the final decision on the development.

The council's infrastructure services committee voted to reject the proposals last Thursday.

Committee chairman Martin Ford had the casting vote after a 7-7 deadlock but voted against the development.

Mr Trump said he would not be appealing against the decision and was instead considering Northern Ireland as an alternative.

Meanwhile, two petitions for and against the Trump development have been posted on the Downing Street website.

Today there were 7,389 signatures in favour of the scheme and 2,011 calling for the project to be abandoned.

Proposals for the resort on the Menie Estate near Balmedie, which included two championship golf courses and a five-star hotel, were thrown out by the council's infrastructure services committee last week.

Aberdeenshire Council leader Anne Robertson welcomed the decision.

She said: "What is important in all this is securing the economic future of the north-east of Scotland.

"The Scottish Government quite rightly feels this application raises issues of such importance that they require scrutiny at a national level.

"If the decision of ministers to call this application in keeps it alive, then we welcome this intervention."

Alex Johnstone, Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, said: "This is absolutely the right decision and I can only hope it is not too late. Last week's decision was, quite simply, the wrong one and does not reflect public opinion. I am delighted by tonight's developments."

Nanette Milne, Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, said: "This issue is of enormous importance, to the economy not only of the North East but of Scotland as a whole. Given this magnitude, it is right that it should be decided nationally by ministers, and not by a council committee comprising 14 members."