Dunes near Donald Trump’s north-east golf course have lost their status as a nationally important protected wildlife site.
Parts of the area on Foveran Links will no longer be considered a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
This is due to the construction of the Trump International Golf course on the dune system at nearby Menie Estate.
NatureScot made this decision following a formal consultation on the future on the SSSI.
“There is now 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.”
Eileen Stuart, NatureScot’s interim director of nature and climate change.
However, the Scottish Government overruled them and granted planning permission for the multi-million-pound estate, paving the way for its opening in 2012.
Earlier this year, Aberdeenshire Council granted permission for a second 18-hole course to be built at the resort – despite previously hearing the existing facilities had been operating at a loss for seven years in a row.
NatureScot and the landowners have been holding discussions about the impact of the development since 2016 and this decision comes after a three-month stakeholder consultation period that started in June 2019.
Eileen Stuart, NatureScot’s interim director of nature and climate change said: “There is now 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.
“Trump International Golf Links Scotland has undertaken to deliver nature conservation management on the golf course and we value the work they have done to protect the remaining rare habitats and the rare plants on their site however they no longer have sufficient scientific interest to merit special protection.”
It was exceptionally important due to a wide variety of coastal landforms and processes.
The site’s most praised features included its dune habitats, and it’s dynamic sand dune system.
The remaining reduced SSSI at Foveran Links will be merged with the adjacent Sands of Forvie and Ythan Estuary SSSI next year.
Last night, Councillor Martin Ford – who used his casting vote as chairman of the council’s planning committee to block the original proposals for the resort – said it was “shameful” that the development had been allowed to proceed at a cost to the environment.
The Green councillor said: “The Menie sand sheet was a natural wonder. It has been replaced by a Trump vanity project, another loss-making golf course.
“The failure to protect this amazing and beautiful wild landscape for future generations is shameful.
“I believe we have a duty to protect the natural world on which we all depend.
“We have allowed an irreplaceable natural area to be destroyed but only got a tiny fraction of the economic and jobs benefits promised. Far from being a draw for tourism, our association with Mr Trump is an embarrassment.”
Trump International Scotland has been contacted for comment.