Jan 162013

Things are seriously amiss at the Trump International Golf Course and Menie Estate, as Aberdeen Voice’s Suzanne Kelly and photographer Rob discovered. Inspired by Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney’s You’ve Been Trumped film, Kelly has followed developments at ‘the world’s greatest golf course’ with interest. On a recent visit, residents showed our team around the site and shared stories. In the second instalment of a series of articles, Kelly looks at the demise of the road infrastructure.

There are signs of flooding all over the Balmedie area. Damage to the course is dramatically illustrated in the article:

Menie Estate Series: Crazy Golf

But the course damage is only one aspect of how the estate is faring this winter; the residents have more practical and urgent problems.

Susan Munro has lived on the estate for decades. Alongside her house runs a road which had until recently been a smooth path.

It slopes gently down to Susan’s house on the north side, and now the golf course on the south.

“I’ve lived here for 30 years and this is the worst it’s been,” Susan says.

She is shaking her head, standing in the doorway of her home. At her feet are signs of flooding; a wet, sandy, muddy substance covers concrete slabs and seems sure to cause her drains to overflow. She is, however, mainly talking about the only access road to her home.

The road is virtually unusable.

When Trump came it was with ambitious plans and an assortment of construction vehicles. The access road had quite a lot to cope with. While it may sit on Trump-owned land, historically it served the residents as an access road.

It has, in the writer’s opinion (and that of several residents), been damaged badly as a result of construction vehicles and the run-off pipe or pipes.

Then the plastic pipes appeared, carrying run-off from the golf course area. One such pipe is clearly visible near the road on the opposite end from the Munro residence. This pipe seems to be carrying run-off from the course directly into the side of the road.

There is no drainage for this road. Already badly rutted from course construction traffic, it is being further eroded.

Not helping the matter is the construction of giant bunds – tall, steeply rising mounds of earth built along the length of this road and on the east side of the property border between Trump and Munro. (More on these bunds in a future article; they deserve a great deal of description).
Water runs down this now badly rutted dirt road, and as the road ends in the newly-constructed parking lot, a short gradient channels yet more water off the new parking lot tarmac onto the dirt road.

Finally, the Trump organisation has dug two gravel pits in a field between the Munro house and David Milne’s home; the field slopes down towards the road.

The idea seems to be that the first pit, filled with gravel and then covered would catch water, with the overflow going to the second pit.
The only place from there for water to go would certainly seem to be the damaged little access road.

It is unclear that any of these additions – run-off pipes, bunds, drainage pits, and slope from parking to the dirt road – had been given specific, clear planning permission.

In fact, I was promised the bunds were temporary when I wrote to Aberdeenshire Council in 2011. Temporary is a long time in this part of the world, it seems.

It would also seem no one from Aberdeenshire Council is making regular visits. It would seem obvious the council should ensure residents can access their historic road.

Considering that most of us living in the North East would have to apply for permission before changing the type of windows we have in our homes, why are such damaging, major modifications to the landscape being allowed with virtually no sign of proper approval process or assessments?

There is no suggestion on any part that these modifications are done to deliberately make life difficult for the residents. The fact remains though: this is just what they are doing.

The road is now so bad that Susan Munro cannot use it any longer.
In fact, if you had a 4×4 you would still face difficulties trying to drive down this road, not least because of the seriously dangerous gap which has opened up near its lower end.

This has had a few token objects such as a bag of building material (unopened) unceremoniously dumped into it, as if that were a remotely adequate or safe remedy to this dangerous situation.

Walkers would find nothing to warn them of the dangers of walking this road, either.

Fixing the road should not be too difficult; it should, in my opinion, be done quickly, by the council, and paid for almost exclusively by the Trump Organisation.

Trump is quick to condemn area residents who keep their property in a state he doesn’t like, yet this road is now a massive eyesore and can’t be used.

Perhaps if it were visible to his golfers it would be a different story, but that ‘temporary’ bund shields players’ eyes from this unpleasant reality.

At the end of this series of articles, a summary report of findings will be sent to relevant organisations including Trump International, Aberdeenshire Council Clerk of Works, councillors, and not least – the Health & Safety Executive.

In the meantime, Susan has to use the Trump parking lot and new road (with a perfectly smooth tarmac surface) to get off the estate.

How has that been working out for her?

How is she coping with the bunds? What are things like for her?

The answer is probably worse than you might imagine.

Residents’ experiences will be covered in the next article in this series on Friday morning.

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 Estate residents have just been advised Leyton Farm Road will be closed 17 and 18 January.  They believe this is for road repair work.  Aberdeen Voice will report on the repair work once completed.
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  12 Responses to “Menie Estate Series No. 2: The Road’s A Ruin”

  1. I greatly admire Suzanne and Rob for bringing this to people’s attention, why the authorities won’t do anything is very worrying.

    • Sean, there may be some news on that very soon. I will let you know when I have the correct info re. repairs to the road.

      • Word came a few hours ago – the residents are told the road in question will be closed tomorrow and Friday; hopefully this is for repair work. Aberdeen Voice will report on this development when more news is in.

  2. Excellent coverage, I thought. Cant wait to see the next issue!

  3. I think many residents in many different countries have had their environment and livelihood wrecked permanently and irrevocably by psychopathic FAT CATS. They have lived sustainably and understand how everything works around them. I think is is equally worrying that local and national governments not only stand by, but assist in the destruction in an effort to be FAT CATS themselves, sitting in their mansions with their pensions.

  4. With snow and then rain forecast, seems a strange time to be carrying out road repairs.

    • I totally agree, any repairs will come apart when the water freezes!!!! A colleague of mine at work stated that it is perfectly legal for someone to divert water off their property even if it causes hardship to a neighbour, that cant be right surely?

  5. The golf course is build on flattened sand dunes, which are essentially shifting sands, facing the cold, unforgiving, treacherous North Sea. Trees do not survive when facing a continuous barrage of biting, furious salt spray. The sea and the dunes will reclaim its own, and it might not take too long. Look at Troon golf Course and St Andrew’s golf course, they are not surrounded by mansions by any means, but by typical Scottish flats and houses. Those fine builders respected the local residents. By trying to bury and surround houses in banks of soil, has created an eyesore beyound belief. Most golfers respect fairness and fair play.The dunes will return. The dunes have been there since time imemorial and they will come back, in time.

  6. Terrible to leave the road in that mess. And leave residents stressed and unable to use a road they have been used to for so long. I only hope that all they have done wrong will catch up with them in the end.

  7. Invaluable stuff yet again from Suzanne and Rob, for which there is no other source of info, certainly not wir ain P&J! And why on earth does Aberdeenshire Council allow this to go on? But I agree with A. MacLeod – you can try to pin down a mobile sand dunes system, but the wind and the sea will prevail eventually.

  8. ” Aberdeen Voice will report on the repair work once completed.” Has any been done?

    • work has been done; but ‘completed’ is a not word residents have used to describe it. ‘Chuckies’ have been put down; questions remain as to how suitable this is as a solution, and the drainage issues don’t appear to be addressed. Getting a clear answer from authorities to this and other questions is problematic

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