An Open Letter from Donald Trump

I seem to have hit a nerve. Donald Trump today sent an open letter to me to the media (a reporter sent it on to me - somehow I was missed off the distribution list).

He seems upset that I have pointed to the issue of locked gates around the periphery of the estate (see photos and map) and has resorted to personal abuse in an attempt to deflect attention away from the issue.

The advice that anyone in public life faced with abusive correspondence is usually to ignore it.

Update 18:36 - now received by email from the Trump Organisation direct.
Email to reporters time stamped at 12:56.

Re-use bag campaign

I amused two students at a supermarket this afternoon who were employed by the Scottish Government to hand out key-rings, fridge magnet and notepads promoting the carrier bag campaign by refusing the items on the grounds that I'd end up throwing them away and that was not "green". But even bags are a part of the whole so I'm happy to support this campaign ... as part of the wider actions needed (see last post)

We had a super conversation. I introduced myself and we had a good conversation about the environment and politics. I wish them both well for the future.

I finally agreed to accept a fridge magnet. They told me the elephant is called Eric - so welcome to my fridge, Eric.

Latest climate change research

Super article by the Rob Edwards on the latest climate change research and what may happen at
"All the current promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions will still see global temperatures rise by an average of four degrees centigrade by the end of the century, they say. This is hot enough to make most of the world uninhabitable, killing or making refugees of billions of people in Asia, Africa and America."
Do read the full article.

Earth (2) Hour

We went the whole hog and switched off all the power to the house. This left us with two candles and logs burning on our stove.

Delightful - so Earth Hour extended into nearly two.

So why was this so good?

We stopped and talked.

The light levels went to those we know and love when bothying (see But more than that, we felt that we had everything important. And talked about a simpler life.

What matters? - Shelter. People. Warmth - physical and emotional.

We hope to "Earth Hour" more often.

Idealistic? Self indulgent when we can and do switch it all back on?

But worth doing to make us think about what we need rather than want. And to reassess what we do really need.

So we'll do our own personal earth hour more than once a year. And think about what we need - and what the cost of that really is.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour is about getting a billion people to switch their lights off to show support for action to tackle climate change. I've just signed up, can you do so too?

This Saturday 29th March. 8.30pm to 9.30pm

Sign up at

Out and about with the Rangers

I'm always very grateful to the Ranger's Service. They are all amazingly committed individuals who pass on their enthusiasm and expertise to others. So please have a look at their summer programme and get an expert view on our natural environment ... and have some fun!

Where do we built new houses?

The decisions taken regarding the Structure Plan are coming home to roost. Rather than this being some lines on a map and some nice sounding aspirations and some big numbers, we are now seeing what they mean for real. I'm worried that the late addition of 600 houses to the Blockdog-Ellon Strategic Growth Area may be just too much to swallow.

See previous post for details of Structure Plan.

Lots of what I say is about housing numbers. We haven't forgotten employment land and there was a great deal of agreement that we need to encourage more local employment and ensure that allocated employment land was serviced so it could readily be occupied. But it was where housing should go that generated the hardest problems.

See previous post for details of Development bids

So how do the numbers pan out? The area divides into three portions - and we have the first cut on how the big numbers may be divided up across Aberdeenshire.

The Structure Plan fixes the numbers in the SGA area ... so the only route to change this number is to object to the Structure Plan (by 24th April 2009). The other numbers can flex between here and other areas of Aberdeenshire - or an objection to the Structure Plan could change these too! The Local Plan must "conform" to the Structure Plan i.e. if the numbers are in the final approved version of the Structure Plan, then we are talking "where" not "whether"

There was a bit of debate about which settlements were inside the Strategic Growth corridor ... OK yes Balmedie, Ellon ... but Whitecairns? Kingseat? Newburgh? Where would you draw the boundary?

Strategic Growth Area (SGA): 2300 houses
Includes: Balmedie, Potterton, Blackdog, Belhelvie, Foveran, Tipperty, Cultercullen, Ellon
plus also may include Newburgh, Whitecairns, Kingseat, Collieston (else these are Aberdeen Housing Market Area)

Aberdeen Market Housing Area (AHMA): 2350 houses
Includes: Oldmeldrum, Pitmedden/Millden, Tarves, Methlick, Udny Green, Udny Station, Ythanbank

Rural Housing Market Area (RHMA): 680-700 houses
Includes: Turriff, Cuminestown, Daviot, Fisherford, Fyvie, Rothienorman, Aucherless, Woodhead, St.Katherines

So how do we divide up these allocations between settlements?

The SGA development will require whole new Academy and there was general agreement that there should be a new Academy south of Ellon to serve the settlements. Exactly where would you like to see this?

A case was made for going easy on Oldmeldrum .... but that would mean more allocation elsewhere. Can we do this and if so where could this be?

Do we need to ask other parts of Aberdeenshire to take more of the AHMA allocations as we are taking a big lump of the SGA allocation?

Turriff's primary school is full and it would need to take most of the RHMA allocation in order to fund a second - so it's a bit all or nothing. Will that work or should we be growing another place instead or should be just spread the housing through all the settlements?

I'll post more of my thoughts soon, but I'd like to hear your comments.

Menie open again (briefly)

Thanks to Aberdeenshire Council's Access Officer! I checked at lunchtime today and all the locked accesses I'd identified bar one were open.

I'll nudge about the remaining locked gate and hope that the Estate now properly understands their duties under the "Right to Roam" legislation.

Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003

Scottish Outdoor Access Code

See comments for updates.

One grey squirrel less

The trap caught a large male grey squirrel today.

While I don't take pleasure from killing any wild thing, this is the wrong species in the wrong place so they have to go. Hopefully he hasn't many "friends" in the woods and we will then have played our part in protecting our native red squirrels.

Menie Estate Access blocked

I received a complaint yesterday that access through the Menie estate to the sand dunes and beach had been blocked. and immediately investigated. I found that gates into the estate were closed and locked at all the main accesses.

Many local residents were worried that they would no longer be allowed access to the estate and beach.

Over the past year or so, gates had been erected at the main accesses into the Menie Estate but these have usually been left open. However, yesterday (Saturday) the main access to the SSSI dunes at the north of the estate was
restricted and all the gates were closed and locked. This makes accessing the beach and dunes harder for pedestrians and impossible for cyclists and horse riders - and all these groups are entitled to access under the
Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Local residents are now concerned that the access to the estate grounds, sand dunes and beach that they have always enjoyed is being denied.

A previous attempt to discourage access by erecting signs warning of guard dogs was twarted when the Estate was ordered to remove these signs in order to comply with the "right to roam" legislation. But despite Donald Trump himself promising at the Public Local Inquiry to obey the law access has now been blocked.

This increases fears that the Trump development will be a closed gated community and access to the beach and sand dunes will be restricted to guests and residents on the estate.

I have referred the matter to Aberdeenshire Council's Access Officer. I am confident that this latest breach of the legislation will be dealt with as efficiently and promptly as the previous attempt. Hopefully access for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders will be restored in the next few days.

View Larger MapThe six access restrictions are:
987207 Green chain across track to beach
974200 New gate locked (chain and padlock)
972206 New gate locked (chain and padlock)
974202 Existing gate locked (chain and padlock)
985200 Old gate locked (chain and padlock) (permeable to pedestrians)
982198 Existing gate locked (chain and multiple padlocks)

A question - SNH funding shifts

Originally posted as a comment to another post, I was recently asked
"What are your views on the transfer of SNH funds, intended for Local Authorities, to be shifted directly into the Local Authority Core Settlements with effect from April 09? "

I've great respect for Scottish Natural Heritage. They have long been very effective partners for local authorities, and here in Aberdeenshire recently I have been very aware of their contributions
  • part funded Rangers
  • helping drive forward the Core Path proposals with ALOAF
  • and, of course, being a key objector in the Menie PLI.
The paper to the SNH Board correctly identifies the risks - funds once transferred to local authorities are not ring-fenced and therefore there can be no guarantee that spending on SNH priorities will continue. This fear is particularly acute as local authority spending comes under increasing pressure - e.g. Aberdeenshire is expected to need to make £10m of cuts in the 2010/11 budget. And as funding to the Scotland from Westminster comes under pressure as it will do, then the budget settlement to local authorities may get even worse.

The only control is the Single Outcome Agreement between councils and the Scottish Goevrnment and I can see little in there that will ensure that monies will continue to be spent to protect, conserve and enhance the high quality natural heritage that so contributes to Aberdeenshire being regarded as a great place to live, work and visit.

So I am not optimistic .... particularly as those running both local and Scottish government seem to regard the environment as a poor third to the economy and social aspects when discussing sustainability (just where did the phase sustainable economic development come from?).

Energy Controversies

Thanks to the (anonymous) commenter who pointed me to the University of Aberdeen's lecture series Energy Controversies.

Just how serious is Climate Change. ... or should that be catastrophe?

It takes a while for politicians to catch up with science. And maybe we are too late to avert climate catastrophe (see

Now the Maldives, most of which is just 1.5m above sea level have announced that they plan (that's plan not aim) to be carbon neutral in just 10 years.

OK, they have a great incentive to make progress on this. There is a real risk that their country will no longer exist by the end of the century if the worst predictions come true.

But the cost for the package of low-carbon measures is estimated to be about $110m a year for 10 years. The scheme should pay for itself quite quickly, because the Maldives will no longer need to import oil products for electricity generation, transport and other functions. If the oil price were to rise to $100 per barrel, the payback period would be as short as 11 years. At current prices, it would take roughly twice as long to break even.

President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed said: "Climate change is a global emergency. The world is in danger of going into cardiac arrest, yet we behave as if we've caught a common cold. Today, the Maldives has announced plans to become the world's most eco-friendly country. I can only hope other nations follow suit."

See full story at

Local police performance

We are fortunate in living in a relatively low crime area and with a police force that are committed to working in and with our communities. So I am pleased to relay some Highlights from the Aberdeenshire Public Performance Report for Q3 2008/09.

Community Well-Being
– Vandalism detection Rate at a Three Year High

The number of detected crimes of Vandalism in Aberdeenshire has improved significantly and has reached its highest level (36.2%) for the last 3 years.

Community Well-Being – Underage Drinking Lowest Levels Since 2007
Aberdeenshire has recorded significant reductions of underage drinking reports, representing the lowest recorded figures since the first quarter of 2007.

Reducing Road Casualties – Continued Proactive Polici
Aberdeenshire experienced 6 persons killed in Road Traffic Collisions this quarter. This is despite the continuance of high visibility patrols, within areas identified as having a history of collisions and pro-active policing and education of drivers, within identified high risk groups.

Community Wellbeing – Group 4 Crimes Detection Rate at Three Year High
A three year high detection rate at 39.5% was recorded in Aberdeenshire for Group 4 crimes which includes vandalism. This has been replicated throughout the Force.

Controlled Drugs – Drug Supply Figures Lowest Recorded in Three Years
The number of Drug Supply Charges recorded in Aberdeenshire fell by 50% this quarter and is the lowest recorded figures in relation to Drug Supply for 3 years.

The full report is available at;31;5;133

Grey Squirrels

Tomorrow we get traps to capture the grey squirrels that have arrived in our woods. We are on the border between populations of greys and reds. Ellon has a healthy population of reds. Aberdeen has greys and a £1.3m eradication programme.

"Squirrel pox" isn't harming the greys but is deadly to the reds so the greys must go.

The idea is to use live traps which we will check at least once a day, releasing everything but the greys. It's illegal to release greys once caught.

For more information, please see

50 mph

On a holiday in Norway some years ago, I found driving at the national speed limit of 50mph very relaxing. Everyone simply obeyed the limit and apart from the slight jostle to be the first in the line off a ferry, it was very relaxing. Almost no overtaking - all the traffic simply drove at 50mph.

And then there is fuel consumption. Of course this varies with cars, driving style, etc but generally 45-50mph will be the most efficient. Typically driving at 60mph will use 21% more fuel than driving at 60mph.

So, I welcome the government's consultation on reducing the national speed limit to 50mph for single carriageway roads.

Let's say yes to reduce rural road deaths and CO2 emissions.

Washing machines

My washing machine is broken - it's the pump that empties the water. It's 15 years old so I've bought a new one. The ratings for energy efficiency are a bit odd.

I've gone for an A+AA machine and the manufacturer tells me that the energy consumption is 1.02 kwh/cycle and Water consumption is 45 litres/cycle-wash.

But I've seen an AAC machine that quotes 49 litres normal water consumption for a 60 degree wash and 0.95kW energy consumption per cycle.

Both machines take a 6kg load.

So have I been suckered by the labelling?

Bad news for Trump

Trump venture folds, leaving buyers strapped, Associated Press, San Diago

Donald Trump Sees Dark Days Ahead, CBS

Meltdown Trump

Structure Plan (yawn!)

OK. What is it and why should I care?

Most people usually ignore such topics but this plan sets out how Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City will change until 2030.

It proposes a Strategic Growth Area running from the City to Peterhead along the A90 which means the development of 3800 houses from 2007-2030. What does that mean - it adds around half an Ellon to the existing stock.

The plan proposes 800 houses 2007-2016, 1500 houses 2017-23 and 1500 houses 2024-2030

400 of those houses were added on 13th February just 6 days before Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils approved the plan. So much for "widespread engagement and consultation".

So please do go and look at the proposed plan at

And if you want to object, please do so to

You have until 24th April to objection or a comment - so do it now. Please give your name and address with any objection and clearly indicate which part of the plan you object to.

Next Aberdeenshire Local Plan

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to tell someone that their objection to a development won’t have much force as the development is in the Local Plan - so even if councillors turned it down, it would be won on appeal.

And now it’s Local Plan consultation time again! I'm not sure the Council is doing this very well - the developers have been asked to submit bids and community councils to comments on where they do/don't want to see development. And we councillors meet on 25th March to discuss the proposals.

But then planners will form the plan based on all this input - and we councillors will be asked to approve it. I'm unconvinced that the degree of consultation will result in public buy-in to what may be very big changes - especially here in a Strategic Growth Area within the Structure Plan.

So ...

Please look at

It’s all a bit daunting so for a quick overview of settlements in Ellon and District, you may want to just hop to








Tipperty.pdf and Logie Buchan


Please do not panic! Developers routinely take options on land around existing settlements and make bids to have these parcels of land included in the Local Plan. It does not mean that these sites will be developed … but this is your best opportunity to influence where development takes place.

So if there is something on these maps that concern you, please do go to and find the detailed submission by the developer. Some have further information attached which we have not access to as yet. I’ve asked for copies to be made available to me for all the above settlements and for these to be published onto the web site asap. Until they have been, please post your queries here and I will try to ensure that they are answered (I’d prefer to do this via comments and responses rather than say email as that way, everyone will get the information that anyone asks for but if you don’t want to post your comment do email me).

I do encourage you to comment on this topic and on the developers proposals for the next local plan. But as well as commenting here, please do put your comments to