Trump golf course 'forced animals from their homes'
Special scientific status of Menie Estate being reviewed by heritage experts.
A review is being carried out into the special scientific status of the area where Donald Trump built his golf resort in Aberdeenshire.
The Menie Estate course is said to have caused habitat loss for wildlife and damage to the sand dune system.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is looking into the scale of the impact to decide if all or parts of the site should lose the status.
An SNH spokesman said: "As expected, there are areas where there has been some permanent habitat loss - for example, where tracks, tees, fairways and greens have been constructed.
"There have been other habitat changes where, for example, mobile sand dunes have been stabilised through the planting of marram grass.
"Part of our review will be to assess the significance and scale of this loss and damage."
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are areas of land and water considered to best represent the country's natural heritage.
Part of the Trump International Golf Links course was built on delicate dunes at Foveran, north of Aberdeen, which hold the status.
The site had been considered one of the best examples of a mobile sand dune system in the UK. Before the course was granted planning permission, opponents spoke out about its potential impact on the area.
'I don't think it matters to us. It may matter to other people and we'll be comfortable with whatever the option and the decision on that is.'Trump International Golf Links Scotland executive vice-president Sarah Malone
Jonny Hughes, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: "The Scottish Wildlife Trust was strongly opposed to the Trump development.
"Our main objection was that there would be severe and irreversible damage to around 40% of the Foveran Links SSSI, one of the best sand dune systems of its type in north-western Europe.
"Therefore, it would be unsurprising if the SSSI status is removed."
The Trump Organisation was granted outline planning permission to build the resort by the Scottish government in 2008 after an Aberdeenshire Council committee rejected it.
It was decided the economic impact of what was proposed was more important than environmental concerns following a public local inquiry.
Trump International Golf Links Scotland executive vice-president Sarah Malone said: "I don't think it matters to us.
"It may matter to other people and we'll be comfortable with whatever the option and the decision on that is. We bought the site because of these extraordinary sand dunes. Why would we do anything to damage them?
"The fact of the matter is, contrary to what is propagated by a very small group of people, our environmental approach was first class."