Donald Trump has lifted the eviction threat hanging over families living around his planned £750million Scottish golf resort – declaring that he will not ask for compulsory purchase orders to be used against them.
After nearly two years of speculation, the US developer has said he will not request local government intervention to secure four homes – Mill of Menie, Menie Fishing Station, Hermit Point and Leyton Cottage – which he has included in his plans for the Menie Estate, in Aberdeenshire.
Mr Trump was granted planning permission to add the properties to his proposals in May 2009, despite the absence of an agreement to buy them.
However, he insisted that talk of compulsory purchase orders, or CPOs, should be shelved while his team negotiated with the owners.
The property owners rejected the deals offered to them, leading to claims that Mr Trump would ask the council to step in to use the powers. The action would have had to be agreed by councillors and, potentially, the Scottish Government.
Last night, however, the billionaire said he would not seek to have the families removed.
He told the Press and Journal: “We have consistently said that we have no interest in compulsory purchase and have never applied for it.
“It remains part of the Scottish planning process but we have not, and will not, request that Aberdeenshire Council use their CPO powers to purchase houses.
“The only reason CPO was even brought up by our opposition is that they have consistently lost on every other front and this is the only way for them to continue to gain free publicity on the back of the Trump name.”
It is understood that no further offers will be made to the homeowners, meaning the development will now go ahead around them, with Mr Trump planning to use trees to screen them from the view of his golfers.
A statement from the Trump Organisation last night said: “Through a combination of landscaping and planting, the preliminary work to eliminate the negative visual impact of the poorly maintained and unkempt properties that border our development has completely succeeded.
“As everyone knows, our great golf course, which is now well under construction, was never affected, either visually or physically, by the out parcels given that they are far from the course.
“The remedial work in relation to the other components of the development will therefore progress for the foreseeable future and no government intervention will be required.”
The Scottish Government granted Mr Trump permission to build two golf courses, a £250million hotel, 950 holiday homes and 500 houses in 2009.
However, speculation surrounding the use of CPOs has helped fuel a campaign against the development, and it emerged yesterday that Queen guitarist Brian May had agreed for the band’s hit Bohemian Rhapsody to be used in a film highlighting the plight of the families who fear eviction.
Mr Trump said the anti-development lobby was damaging Scotland’s reputation.
“There are consequences to supporting anti-development groups who perpetually spread false information and mislead people,” the statement said last night.
“Scotland’s international business reputation is being damaged and businesses regionally and nationally are being affected.”
The homeowners welcomed Mr Trump’s rejection of the use of CPOs last night, although they remained sceptical.
David Milne, of Hermit Point, said: “If this is true – because I have significant doubt about anything this organisation says – then it is a welcome development.
“We will need to wait and see what he is proposing regarding the landscaping he mentions.
“If it is true, I am very pleased. But I would like to see a letter from him stating this.”
Mr Milne rejected the American’s claims that he had never asked for CPOs at Menie, saying he had a letter from February 2009 that proved he had.
Michael Forbes, of Menie Fishing Station, was not available for comment last night. Mr Trump has previously described his farm as “a slum”.
He and his mother, Molly, 86, have become Mr Trump’s most vociferous opponents, with Mrs Forbes now trying to block the development through the Court of Session.