Conservation charity RSPB Scotland has joined Donald Trump in objecting to plans for an offshore windfarm near Aberdeen.
A planning application for an 11-turbine development off Aberdeen Bay was submitted to Marine Scotland in August – prompting an angry response from the American billionaire, whose £750million golf resort is being built nearby.
The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre is a £150million joint venture by utility company Vattenfall, engineering firm Technip and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group.
The structures would be up to 640ft tall – twice the height of Big Ben.
Mr Trump has told First Minister Alex Salmond the turbines are “disastrous and environmentally irresponsible”, and left an “ugly cloud hanging over the future of the great Scottish coastline”.
Last night it emerged that Mr Trump had an unlikely ally in the RSPB, which is joining the campaign against the project over fears it could harm rare birds.
The area is currently home to seabirds, as well as waterfowl, most notably rarer species such as common scoter and red-throated diver.
RSPB Scotland area manager for north-east Scotland Ian Francis said: “From an early stage, we have held many discussions with the developers, and we acknowledge the efforts they have made to reduce its scale and change the layout of the turbines, which has helped.
“However, more planning, research and monitoring is needed to ensure we truly understand the impact this site may have on local birds.
“The bay is an important area for many species. Since this is a European-funded test centre, it is crucial that a thorough research programme is developed to help understand how this and the many forthcoming offshore windfarms can reduce their impacts on birds and other marine wildlife.”
The group has recommended some changes to the project’s design and construction, which it believes are necessary to minimise impacts to wildlife.
Ironically, the RSPB objected to Mr Trump’s plans to create “the world’s greatest golf course” – but last night he welcomed the organisation’s stance on the turbines scheme.
“The impact this windfarm has on birds is one of many concerns members of the public are raising with us,” he said.
“We have been inundated with calls and letters from people living throughout Scotland who are troubled by existing windfarms and are fighting similar developments. There are serious issues with this wind centre – it’s badly sited and will have a detrimental impact on tourism and other important businesses operating in the area.”
He added: “There are so many objections coming forward that the Scottish Government will have no option but to reject this terrible and destructive proposal.”
David Rodger, spokesman for the consortium behind the wind project, said they have carried out additional studies of the impact the development will have since lodging the application.
He said: “We look forward to working with Marine Scotland and RSPB Scotland to discuss the concerns and to share with them the emerging data we have on the proposed site.”
Mr Trump has completed his championship links at the Menie Estate near Balmedie and will welcome his first golfers in July next year.
But he has said that the rest of his resort – a luxury £250million hotel, 950 holiday homes and 500 houses – would be “at risk” if the Scottish Government backs the offshore windfarm plan.
The turbines would be erected one-and-a-half miles from the coast between Balmedie and Bridge of Don, and visible from the Trump site.
Mr Trump’s objection states: “The reality is that this windfarm will significantly impact on our resort to the extent that the remaining parts will be at risk.”
It adds: “There is no way that any international hotel operator will commit to developing a world-class hotel overlooking what will be an offshore industrial facility.”