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Donald Trump Loses Supreme Court Appeal Against Scottish Wind Farm

Politics

Donald Trump lost his fight against a wind farm being built near his Menie golf resort in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The UK Supreme Court unanimously decided to reject his appeal against the offshore wind farm of 11 turbines, which was approved by the Scottish government.

"This is an extremely unfortunate verdict for the residents of Aberdeen and anyone who cares about Scotland's economic future," Trump's organization told the BBC. "The EOWDC [European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre] will completely destroy the bucolic Aberdeen Bay and cast a terrible shadow upon the future of tourism for the area."

"History will judge those involved unfavorably and the outcome demonstrates the foolish, small-minded and parochial mentality which dominates the current Scottish government's dangerous experiment with wind energy," the organization added. "We will evaluate the court's decision and continue to fight this proposal on every possible front."

The legal battle has gone on for years with Trump losing at every earlier stage. Trump was not present for any of the proceedings, but his lawyers argued Scottish ministers did not have the authority to approve the wind farm application and that there was a problem with the design application.

The judges dismissed his claims, saying, “It is clear that the consent contains a mechanism enabling the Scottish ministers to use both the construction method statement and the design statement to regulate the design of the wind farm in the interests of environmental protection, and to require compliance with those statements.”

Gary McGovern, energy and planning partner at the law firm Pinsent Masons, expressed his elation over the ruling today: “Donald Trump will be hoping he has more success at the U.S. ballot box than he does in the courts."

“Today’s decision is long overdue but is still a welcome shot in the arm for offshore wind and the wider UK renewables industry," said McGovern. "In pursuing a weak argument described previously in the court of session as ‘fallacious,’ this case has perpetuated a lingering doubt over longstanding legal principles, and that has been to the detriment of the whole energy industry."

“Developers will therefore breathe a sigh of relief and it is hoped that this and other projects affected can now gather pace, without the threat of costly legal challenges and delays on similarly dubious grounds hanging over them,” he added.

The former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond called Trump a "three-time loser."

"These proceedings have been dragged out for years through three successive court judgements by Donald Trump as he tried to stop an offshore Aberdeen wind turbine demonstrator by means of legal action," Salmond said.

"In doing so he has at best postponed, and at worst jeopardized, a vital £200 million boost for the economy of the north east of Scotland," he added. "The offshore project could have been built by now with Aberdeen benefiting from becoming the offshore wind research centre of Europe—a vital development at a time of rock bottom oil prices."

World Wildlife Fund Scotland Director Lang Banks said: "This result is great news for Scotland and for all those interested in tackling climate change and creating jobs. Having failed in his attempt to undermine Scotland's renewables ambitions, it's now time for Mr. Trump to move on."

Trump has been embroiled in controversy since he bought the Menie estate in 2006. Many community members were vehemently opposed to Trump building his resort on sand dunes that were federally protected, according to the BBC. Residents have called the area “our equivalent of the Amazon rainforest.” The local authority initially denied planning permission for the estate, but the Scottish government overturned the decision.

It's all documented in the film You’ve Been Trumped, which has won 12 international awardsTrump threatened to sue the BBC when it announced it was showing the film on television three years ago. The BBC aired it anyway, and after the screening, Trump’s popularity in the UK plummeted. The film was briefly the highest-rated British film of all time on IMDb.

Trump was in the national spotlight in the UK last week as a record number of Britons signed a petition requesting the Parliament to ban Donald Trump from entering the country after he called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. The petition currently has more than half a million signatures.

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Protestors marched outside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, August 26, during the MTV Video and Music Awards to bring attention to the water crisis currently gripping the city. Karla Ann Cote / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Will Sarni

It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.

The city of Flint, Michigan, where dangerous levels of pollutants contaminated the municipal water supply, is a case in point — as is, more recently, the city of Newark, New Jersey.

The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future

We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.

"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.

One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.

Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.

Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.

These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.

We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).

We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.

We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.

Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.

Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.

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