US magnate Donald Trump has received an embarrassing ticking off from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after being found to have placed a misleading advert as part of his campaign against wind farms on the coast of Scotland.
The tycoon owns the Menie golf resort in Aberdeenshire, and is an outspoken critic of existing turbines – claiming that they ruin the beauty and scenery of the Scottish coast. As part of a multi-million pound ad campaign against plans for new turbines, Trump took out a full-page spot in a regional newspaper featuring a picture of 11 defunct and ill-maintained wind turbines, with the headline “Welcome to Scotland” and a caption claiming that First Minister Alex Salmond “wants to build 8750 of these monstrosities – just think about it!”.
However, it was found that the picture was in fact taken at a disused wind farm at Kamaoa in Hawaii – around 7000 miles away.
An acknowledgement of that fact in a footnote cut no ice with the ASA. In reprimanding Trump, the organisation ordered the withdrawal of the advert and called for any future propaganda emanating from his corner to refrain from exaggerating the scale of the developments – the actual number of planned turbines being far less than the ad stated. It also said that future ads should feature the precise models of turbines likely to be used in any future builds on the Scottish coast.
Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart welcomed the ASA’s decision and backed the plans, claiming that they were subject to strict environmental procedures for building and decomissioning, and reiterating that they delivered investment and jobs to Scotland as well as cutting carbon emissions.
Trump certainly seems to be in a position that is unusual for him: that of being on a losing side. The wind-farm battle has escalated since April, when pro-turbine groups trained their sights on the tycoon and claimed that public opinion was against him. There is still simmering local resentment over Trump’s golf development, which has come under fire from environmental groups, and for the emptiness of his promises about jobs at the resort. This latest setback is unlikely to help his reputation, or his cause.