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‘We’d never have moved here if we knew more turbines were coming’: Couple fear dream move to Cabrach could turn into wind farm nightmare

Trevor Smith and his wife Dawn were shocked to discover the future plans after receiving two letters through their door.

Trevor Smith in sunglasses with rural land behind.
Trevor Smith and his wife Dawn Pierce thought they'd found their dream home in the Cabrach. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

When Trevor Smith and his wife Dawn moved to the Cabrach, they thought they had found the home of their dreams.

After falling in love with the tranquillity during four holidays in the north-east, they decided to make the massive move from the increasingly busy Isle of Wight.

In summer last year they moved into their perfect home, a converted former church, and began settling into their new community.

Just four months later they learned of the large wind farm developments that could dominate their rural horizon.

Map showing Trevor Smith's house surrounded by turbinees.

The area is already home to 77 turbines with potentially another 54 coming to almost encircle their home.

Now the couple have revealed they would never have chosen to move to the Cabrach, if they had known about the huge turbine plans.

‘We knew nothing about the next wave of Cabrach turbines’

Trevor and Dawn had spent holidays in Strathdon, driving through the Cabrach while visiting sights including Glenlivet, Elgin and Lossiemouth.

But it was the rural and untouched surroundings of the tiny community that they fell in love with.

When they saw the former Cabrach church come on the market, they jumped at the chance to swap life in the south for the rural north-east.

Trevor Smith in front of his former church home.
Extensions to the Clashindarroch wind farm would reach the ridge near Trevor Smith’s home. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Less than a year later, they now fear the dream of what they were moving for could be about to be destroyed.

Mr Smith, 62, said: “The Cabrach is about as rural, rustic and remote as you can get on the mainland. For anything similar you probably have to go to the US or Canada.

“We have neighbours next door, but they’re probably about a quarter of a mile away. It’s exactly what we were looking for.

“The first we knew of it was a letter through the door from SSEN threatening to do some work and a letter from the community association about a wind turbine meeting.

“We thought we’d better go to that and see what it’s about and heard about a potential third phase, with a second phase we didn’t know about already consented.

Former church set among hills.
Hills shield the property from the existing turbines. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

“We were so disappointed. We probably wouldn’t have chosen here if we had known there were 200-metre turbines planned.

“There were some here already. They’re not far away, just over a hill, but we can’t actually see any of them at the moment, although we can hear them.”

Fears for future of holiday let business

The move to the Cabrach allowed Mr Smith to continue his job working from home for an aviation firm.

Together, the couple hoped to start a business running a holiday let from an annexe they’re in the process of renovating.

However, they have concerns more turbines in the Cabrach will also make their business venture unviable.

Mr Smith said: “I just worry people won’t want to come here anymore. People want to come here to see the natural beauty, not white monstrosities in the sky.

Wide view of Lower Cabrach.
The rural nature of the Cabrach was what attracted Trevor Smith and Dawn Pierce to the area. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

“When you drive around you can’t help but imagine the people who used to live here. You see abandoned buildings and you can’t help but think about farmers and blacksmiths that used to be here.

“These turbines have an enormous effect on the community, which doesn’t get much back in return.

“Ok, there’s maybe a new road, but maybe people like the way the road used to be. They mainly benefit the landowners.

“People have lost their water supplies here and had to pay for new boreholes at their own expense. It’s disgraceful.

“We have golden eagles, wildcats and all sorts of different wildlife here. It’s a special place.”

‘Cabrach is already doing its bit with turbines’

The Cabrach Trust is spearheading a campaign calling for more turbines to be halted in the area.

The group, which wants to preserve the sparsely populated community as a place to work and live, says its previous objections have not been heard.

The Trust and Mr Smith say the area is already contributing to the climate emergency with dozens of turbines.

Turbines in the distance on hill.
The next phase of turbines proposed for the Cabrach will be larger than those already there. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Mr Smith said: “If it keeps going then all there is going to be are pylons and substations. It’s a massive impact on the landscape.

“I’m not a ‘not in my back yard’ person, generally speaking. There are a lot of turbines here already at Dorenell and Clashindarroch and elsewhere. I just think there’s enough here already.”

Fast facts: Wind turbines in the Cabrach


  • Dorenell: 59 turbines, 410ft tall
  • Clashindarroch: 18 turbines, 360ft

Approved, but not operational yet

  • Clashindarroch II: 14 turbines, 590ft
  • Garbet: Seven turbines, 620ft

In planning

  • Craig Watch: 11 turbines, 650ft
  • Clashindarroch extension: 22 turbines, between 590ft and 650ft

At initial scoping stage

  • Dorenell extension: TBD