Donald Trump – handle with care

Renewables work-loving Dundas advises wind farm-hating billionaire. Awkward

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Dundas & Wilson has been advising Donald Trump on his controversial Aberdeenshire golf resort since day one.

Real estate partner Allan Wernham – now co-managing partner – won the instruction to advise the Trump Organisation on its site purchase seven years ago and his firm has enjoyed a steady stream of mandates since.

Dundas even made a fleeting appearance in You’ve Been Trumped – a documentary about Trump’s actions in Scotland – in the form of a letterhead.

But the mogul’s latest campaign is a testing one for Dundas. Trump is opposing plans to build a £230m offshore wind farm near his fairways because he says it would spoil golfers’ views. While Dundas is helping with some aspects of the complaint, Wernham tells The Lawyer his firm has been keeping its distance from the campaign where possible, on the grounds that it has its own energy practice to think of. Among others, Dundas acts for Scottish and Southern Energy and, in 2011, advised on the sale of three wind farms.

Lead partner Hugo Coetzee said at the time: “The renewable energy sector is experiencing a period of growth and Dundas & Wilson, through its extensive experience across a variety of projects, is well-placed to advise clients.”

With regard to Trump’s wind farm stance, a spokesman for Dundas says: “We act for the Trump Organisation in relation to the development of the golf resort. This includes advising on planning and procedural issues relating to the proposed location of the offshore test wind farm, to which Mr Trump is strongly opposed. The firm does not advise Mr Trump on non-legal issues such as Mr Trump’s general opposition to wind farm developments. These matters are handled by George Sorial, executive vice-president and counsel to the Trump Organisation, and by Mr Trump.”

Given that Trump’s ad campaign depicts rusting wind turbines described as ‘monstrosities’ along with the headline ‘Welcome to Scotland’ (and a disclaimer stating that the photo was not taken in Scotland), you can see the potential for mixed messages.