Friday, 9 December 2011

We’ve been Trumped

Multi-billionaire Donald Trump began flying around in an especially ostentatious new plane in 2010. The plane’s fuel tank has a capacity for over 36,280 kilogrammes of fuel. That’s a hefty carbon footprint for flying just one businessman, his wife and a few mates around. This video gives an inside tour, (preceded by a car advert, sorry about that). 

It’s a refitted Boeing 757, which would normally seat 43 passengers. There is a boardroom, work desks, big flat screen television, a bedroom with ample closet space, a posh loo. There is gold plating everywhere, a shower with gold plated taps, and gold leaf on the seat belt buckles. The Trump name is emblazoned on the fuselage, the white seats, and all over the fittings inside. Trump’s vast wealth and private plane makes him one of the beneficiaries of US tax breaks to private jet owners. These tax breaks have continued under the Obama administration, and helped the private jet industry recover quickly from the economic downturn.

Trump has already made several flights to Scotland in his Boeing 757, where his $1 billion golf resort development on the coast of Aberdeenshire is underway. Along with the 18-hole golf course, with ambitions to be the ‘world’s greatest golf course’, the development includes a luxury hotel and 500 luxury homes, all requiring an access road. Vast swathes of natural vegetation are to be replaced with a monoculture of short grass, and residents of Menie have been subjected to compulsory purchase and are faced with threat of forced eviction. This is documented on the website Tripping Up Trump, which likens the development to another round of highland clearances. I can’t wait for local screenings of this documentary You’ve Been Trumped, which won an award at the 2011 Hamptons International Film Festival. This is the trailer. The intimidation of local people looks horrendous.

is near the resort, and
Trump has backed expansion, adding 124 metres to the northern runway. The runway extension opened in October, and the airport predicts this will help generate an additional 205,000 passengers by 2015. The airport and the golf resort are tightly intertwined in the area’s official tourism strategy. This is myopic and risky, putting too many eggs in one basket. Whilst, aviation remains a growth industry and traffic levels are predicted to increase further, traffic projections for individual airports are notoriously unreliable. Spending millions on vast swathes of concrete to accommodate flimsy growth predictions is a poor bet to boost tourism, jobs and other economic activity. Aberdeen Airport has a major role supporting the oil and gas industry, so will be casting around for new markets as the last dregs of the North Sea deposits are extracted. But banking on Trump’s gold resort is clutching at straws.

Aside from the negative social and environmental impacts, of the airport expansion and the Trump development, the economic viability of the resort is likely to be affected by the low light levels, cold, rain and wind in the long winters. Golf enthusiasts, particularly the wealthy people that this resort is targeting, will have the option to jet off to golf courses in warmer climates. Nevertheless, the Scottish Centre for Tourism said that the new air routes and the Trump development would combine to attract people to the Aberdeenshire area. In 2010, Aberdeen Airport was in talks with no less than 22 airlines, for long haul and short haul routes. China and Russia are expected to be key markets for to attract rourists to Trump’s golf resort.

Trump has been using his money and influence to block more positive developments anywhere in the vicinity of the golf resort. He opposed a wind farm next to the site, 11 turbines off the coast in Aberdeen Bay, complaining about spoiling beautiful coastal countryside. The development still might go ahead in spite of criticism from him and other opponents. Yes, wind turbines can endanger birds, and they do have a visual and noise impact on the environment, but it’s offshore so residents won’t be too badly affected. With North Sea oil running out, ambitious, admittedly imperfect, innovations in renewable energy are vital. Trump even objected to a proposal for a cats and dogs home in the area. Meanwhile, the golf resort is scheduled to open next year.

Whilst lobbying for runway expansion to inflict more aircraft noise on people living under the flightpaths of Aberdeen Airport, Trump took the opposite view when airport expansion threatened to affect his own quality of life. In 2010, he filed a suit against expansion of Palm Beach Airport, attempting to block plans for a new commercial runway. The public statement was that the suit aimed to protect Palm Beach County citizens against noise, but the lawsuit also reflected his personal interests as it attempted to prevent planes from flying over his Mar-a-Largo residence and club. Trump went on to complain about a proposal to disband noise monitoring equipment at several locations around Palm Beach Airport. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) held back on approving runway expansion, as traffic levels were not increasing, and not projected to do so substantially, and Trump dropped his lawsuit against the airport’s expansion in September.


Lawyer in Albuquerque said...

Great plane presented in the article I guess that someone like Donald Trump.

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