London, Nov.4 : American billionaire Donald Trump's contentious plans to transform a wild and windswept stretch of the Aberdeenshire coastline into an exclusive one billion pound golf resort have been approved by the Scottish government, but left wildlife groups fuming with anger.
Environmentalists have condemned the Scotland National Party (SNP) administration for its "wanton vandalism" of an unspoilt natural habitat.
Detailed proposals will be drawn up over the next few months, before the construction of more than 1,000 homes and holiday apartments, a 450-bedroom Gothic-style hotel and two golf courses.
The Times quoted Neil Hobday, the development's director, as saying that he hoped "the first [golf] shots will be hit in spring 2011".
Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, welcomed the project, saying the scheme would create 6,000 jobs - including 1,400 permanent positions.
The First Minister's view was bitterly opposed by Martin Ford, the former chairman of Aberdeenshire Council's planning committee, which blocked Trump's application initially. "A billionaire's vanity project has been put ahead of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There will be widespread suspicion that nobody else would get this permission, because it breaches so many sound principles of good planning. The decision to build a golf course on an SSSI amounts to wanton vandalism. It is gratuitous, because at the inquiry it was demonstrated that it was possible to accommodate the golf course on the estate without using the SSSI," said Ford, a Liberal Democrat councillor.
Trump's proposals for his 2,000-acre Menie estate have also faced fierce opposition from two powerful lobbying organisations, the RSPB and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Both expressed outrage at the government's decision.