So much for the Trump team’s belief that a ministerial call in (the legality of which may yet be challenged by raising queries at the forthcoming inquiry) being quicker than an appeal and local inquiry, as the Trump team claimed during their evidence to the Parliament local government committee. A full public local inquiry into the Menie development has been ordered (some months after the call in).
Now, can anyone work out who told the Trump team that a call in would be quicker than an appeal? the Trump team evidence states that “I have been advised by members of our team who are experts that the call-in process is more streamlined.” Now they were represented by planning consultants and one of Scotland’s leading law firms. Both would know that a controversial development planning to depart from the structure plan, and with development on a site of special scientific interest (with objections from the RSPB and Scottish natural Heritage among others) would not be put through by written submissions. And it couldn’t have been the chief planner – who spoke to them about procedure – and would know that a PLI was inevitable. So, who told the Trump team it was quicker than an appeal – which would have seen matters reach ministers after, you’ve guessed it, a full public local inquiry?
Oh, and having threatened to walk away without appeal (because of the time that would be involved – see the Scottish parliament evidence) the Trump team appear to have revised their view.
“Today’s announcement is obviously disappointing for the Trump Organisation and Donald Trump has carefully deliberated over the next steps. He is not a quitter and he has decided that, given the exceptional level of positive feedback and overwhelming support he has received from the people of Scotland, he will continue to work with everyone involved to turn his plans into reality. Our key concern is over timescales. We need to know how much longer we will have to wait. We have already committed significant investment to this project and with each passing day we are losing money. … This is a regrettable set-back but we are not going to give up before the finishing line when the prize for Scotland is so important. If this was going to be easy anyone could do it. However, in 10 years or in 50 years we want to look back and say that it was worth it. Mr Trump wants to build something that Scotland and the Trump Organisation can be fiercely proud of for generations.”
So, was I right in my first post on this that this was a game of chicken and the ministers had blinked first?