Dir. Anthony Baxter, UK 2011, Dur. 95 mins
Review by Carlie Newman
A billionaire wants to build a super huge golf resort which will provide jobs for local people. Does this sound good? Yes, except that the rich man in question is Donald Trump who wants to build on a site of scientific interest, revered for its environmental qualities (in fact, it is a protected conservation area) and thereby destroy it plus the dynamic dune system. Trump is looking to secure Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) to turn the area into a rich man’s holiday resort, including a 450-room hotel, and 1,500 time share apartments and luxury homes. To do this he needs to remove many of the local residents on the Menie estate area in Aberdeenshire from their homes.
The documentary, filmed by journalist and filmmaker, Anthony Baxter, looks at the efforts put in by Trump, his son and the rest of his team to get his way. On the other side are a very small number of residents who do not want to give up their homes. Michael Forbes has a little farm in the way of Trump’s expansion and Forbes is desperate to get rid of him.
Trump: “If we build a £400 million hotel I don’t think you want the windows looking down into a slum. Mr Forbes lives like a pig. It’s disgusting.”
Forbes: “It’s my home. I’ve lived here for 43 years, and he won’t put me out of it.”
Trump, who is a jet-setting tycoon and a big media star, finds the ordinary “locals” are not so easy to dispose of. He does, however, get the authorities and the police on his side. Amazingly, under the leadership of Alex Salmond, the Scottish Government overturns its own environmental laws to give Trump permission to go ahead – supposedly for the sake of the local economy. When water is turned off from homes, so that some of the residents have no access to any, the police refuse to take action. In fact, at one point when director, Anthony Baxter protests, he is arrested!
Baxter follows the story closely and interviews a few of the residents, chiefly Michael Forbes who is touched by the support of others who march alongside the locals. One of the residents takes film of the gradual destruction of the beautiful landscape and others comment on the loss of their homes and the dunes. An expert from the London School of economics says that the local economy won’t be boosted as in the main jobs will not go to local people but to those from other countries who will send their pay home and not spend it in the area.
Like Michael Moore in his documentaries, Baxter pursues Trump and others in authority for their views, but gets no interviews. The local people do, however, succeed in one matter – the idea of CPOs is dropped by Trump. Many of the incidents remind us of scenes from the film, Local Hero,” and the filmmaker has obviously been reminded, too, as he inserts excerpts from the film which show locals fighting a similar development idea.
The development continues and we can only be grateful to Baxter and his team for bringing the issue to our attention. The last caption reads, Construction of the Trump Golf resort on the former site of special scientific interest continues on the Menie Estate, Abereenshire, Scotland.