EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) Scottish lawmakers on Wednesday backed government efforts to save Donald Trump's proposed $2.1 billion golf resort that would be built on an unspoiled beach near Aberdeen.
The Scottish government took the unusual step of agreeing to review Trump's application after a local council rejected it.
The project is now before the Scottish Parliament's economy, energy and tourism committee and a final decision on the project is still likely months away.
"The committee felt the decision has given a worrying message to the rest of the world that Scotland is closed for business,'' Tavish Scott, the head of the committee, said after the meeting.
Trump's organization has said it is considering moving the billion-pound project to Northern Ireland after Aberdeenshire Council last week threw out plans for two championship golf courses and a five-star hotel on the northeast coast.
Environmental groups and local campaigners opposed the plans to build near sand dunes that are home to rare birds, skylarks and lapwings. The area is protected as an area of special scientific interest.
"The council is being bullied,'' said Councilor Martin Ford who cast the deciding vote when the council became deadlocked over the proposal.
"There is an important principle at stake here,'' Ford said. "It is certainly true that the council has been subject to hardball corporate American tactics.''
The billionaire property developer wants to turn the Menie Estate into a resort complete with two 18-hole courses, a 450-room hotel, 950 vacation homes, 36 golf villas and 500 luxury homes costing up to 1 million pounds (1.4 million euros, $2.1 million) each.
"This is not about a golf course, it's about a massive housing development. You could pave a golf course with gold and it still would not cost a billion,'' environmental campaigner Mickey Foote said.
The project would create 1,440 jobs across Scotland, Councilor Debra Storr said.
The Trump Organization claims it has received more than 50 offers of land to build the resort.
"An option to buy land in Northern Ireland has been signed and the clock is ticking on that at 30 days,'' said Neil Hobday of Trump International Scotland.
"Mr. Trump has been extremely impressed by the speed with which the Scottish Government has intervened,'' Hobday said.
He said Trump still wanted to build the course in Scotland.