A local council in Scotland on Tuesday approved tycoon Donald Trump's plans to build "the world's greatest golf course" on a stretch of remote and stunning Scottish coastline that is home to some of the country's rarest birds.
But the proposal still requires the approval of the Scottish government, which is expected to make its decision by early January.
The billionaire property developer wants to turn sand dunes at the Menie Estate, 15 miles north of Aberdeen, into a $2.1 billion golf resort complete with two 18-hole courses, a luxurious 450-bedroom hotel, 950 vacation homes, 36 golf villas and 500 upscale homes costing from $827,000 to more than $2.1 million each.
Over the last four years, Trump's obstacles have included the current inhabitants of the unspoiled sandy beach with rolling dunes: seven species of endangered rare birds including Skylarks and breeding waders, particularly Lapwings and Redshank, which are on conservationists' "red list."
Residents in the quiet nearby village of Balmedie also have objected to the proposed resort, calling it a "gated community" with too many houses that would spoil the area's quiet atmosphere.
But they lost out and Trump won on Tuesday night.
The Aberdeenshire Council approved his application for the International Golf Links, Scotland. After a two-and-a-half hour meeting at the crowded Balmedie Primary School, the council members voted seven to four in Trump's favor.
George Sorial, Trump's spokesman, praised the council's decision, saying: "We want to assure the people of Aberdeen that we intend to deliver an exceptional product that everyone can be proud of for generations to come."
Trump supporters said the resort would benefit Scotland's economy, create 6,000 jobs and boost tourism. But environmentalists and some local residents continued to oppose it.
The area has more than 125 miles of unspoiled beaches and residents have prospered, thanks to the North Sea oil boom in Aberdeen. But in recent years, the oil industry has declined from its peak in the 1980s.
Trump has spoken proudly of his Scottish roots — his late mother was a Macleod from the Isle of Lewis. Sorial also says the tycoon wants to build a course in Scotland because it is golf's home.